bp&r OCT 2020
ALBIS AND KLEIN MECHANIEK COLLABORATE TO IMPROVE E-BATTERY FOR CARS, BOATS AND CAMPERS â€“ SEE PAGE 4. ACT FAST FOR BIG SAVINGS How a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) has the opportunity to provide significant cost reductions
A UNIQUE CHALLENGE The key challenges facing injection moulders and the role that automation can play in boosting productivity
UNLOCKING REAL VALUE The project making circular foodgrade recycled polypropylene from post-consumer packaging
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After eight years of research, and with a proven concept that has so far been 100 per cent successful in trials, the project could well be the answer that retailers and brand owners alike have long been looking for.
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espite an increase in some negative news headlines starting to appear again recently questioning the use of plastics and the recycling options available for them, the pages of coverage in this magazine dedicated to new breakthroughs, technologies and solutions for plastics materials that were previously unavailable are testament to the great lengths the industry at large is going to in order to break down the barriers to circularity, increase sustainability and protect the future of our planet.
from Professor Edward Kosior of Nextek, who is leading a project on the production of circular food-grade recycled polypropylene from postconsumer packaging. After eight years of research, and with a proven concept that has so far been 100 per cent successful in trials, the project could well be the answer that retailers and brand owners alike have long been looking for. You can read the full feature on pages 27- 29.
Starting with our news updates on page nine, we look at how retailers Tesco and Co-Op are both running their own pilot projects in relation to flexible plastics packaging, each using in-store collection points for customers to deposit the flexible materials not currently collected at kerbside. For Co-Op, this initiative will see the collected materials used to produce bin liners for in-store use. For Tesco, however, which is partnering with SABIC, Sealed Air and Plastic Energy for its scheme, collected material is being turned back into food-grade packaging, with cheese being the first item to hit shelves in the new material. A pioneering project, it demonstrates the best of industry collaboration and, as Tesco’s Head of Packaging puts it, if rolled out at scale across the food retail market, is one that could be of enormous benefit to our planet.
Leanne Taylor, EDITOR AND head of content
Enjoy the issue,
Also where pioneering recycling projects are concerned, this issue we have the pleasure of hearing
the big story
W WITH WEIGHT OPTIMISATION AND SERVICE LIFE CONSIDERATION A KEY FACTOR IN THE DESIGN OF E-BATTERIES, A COLLABORATION BETWEEN ALBIS AND KLEIN MECHANIEK HAS HIGHLIGHTED THE BENEFITS OF POLYMER MATERIALS IN ACHIEVING SUCH PROPERTIES. IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE, BP&R LOOKS AT THE PROJECT IN MORE DETAIL.
olymer distributor, ALBIS, and plastics design and production partner, Klein Mechaniek, recently worked closely together to optimise key properties of an e-battery used in high-quality cars, boats and campers. The objective was to reduce weight and size, and to maximize service life and temperature tolerance in order to meet customer expectations. After careful analysis, three polymers were chosen for the design: Pocan from LANXESS was used for the housing, Bayblend from Covestro for the handle and Altech from MOCOM (former company of ALBIS) for the cell holder. The e-battery is already used in products of well-known brands. RECHARGES FASTER “The new battery recharges much faster and features not only a longer service life, but also a significantly lower weight, an incredibly small size and high temperature tolerance”, explained Oscar Klein, owner of Klein Mechaniek BV.
“Together with the ALBIS team, we have managed to take the product to a new level in terms of key features and design.” “This project is a good example of the way we work at ALBIS: together with our customer, we selected the optimum solution for the specific application from our comprehensive range of products,” added Martin Halverhout, who supervised the project at ALBIS. “Thanks to the good cooperation with Klein Mechaniek and the products of our long-term partners, the project is a complete success.” PROVEN MATERIAL BENEFITS Pocan, a brand of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and PBT blends, is characterised by high heat resistance, strength and hardness as well as excellent sliding properties, high abrasion resistance, good chemical resistance, low susceptibility to stress cracking and low moisture absorption. Covestro’s Bayblend PC/ABS grades have outstandingly well-balanced properties, including high toughness - even at low temperatures - stiffness, dimensional stability, excellent creep resistance, low moisture absorption, good heat resistance and outstanding flame retardancy. Finally, the Altech range includes a wide variety of technical compounds with special thermal and mechanical characteristics, including impact resistance modification, UV stabilisation and individual colour matching.
The new battery recharges much faster and features not only a longer service life, but also a significantly lower weight, an incredibly small size and high temperature tolerance
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On the Cover Battery Life
With weight optimisation and service life consideration a key factor in the design of e-batteries, a collaboration between ALBIS and Klein Mechaniek has highlighted the benefits of polymer materials in achieving such properties. BP&R looks at the project in more detail. See page 4
3 EDITOR’S LETTER 12 Q&A
Plastics processors: Act fast for big savings
As cost efficient, sustainable manufacturing holds its position as top priority for plastics processors, a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) has the opportunity to provide significant savings. BP&R sat down with Peter Haslop, Energy Technical Director at the British Plastics Federation, which administers the scheme, to explain to readers how they can take advantage.
“Rather than bury my head in the sand, I wanted to be part of the solution”
In the latest instalment of our new series collaborating with the Women in Plastics initiative, in which BP&R shines a spotlight on one of the platform’s inspirational interviewees, we share an extract from WIP’s conversation with Imogen Napper, a Marine Scientist researching plastic pollution and National Geographic Explorer & Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar, about her ground breaking work and why she’s known as a ‘plastic detective’.
Automation: A solution to a unique challenge?
Covid-19 has left no segment of the UK manufacturing industry untouched, including the plastics sector. Writing for BP&R, Andy Armstrong, Sales and Marketing Manager at Fanuc UK, explores some of the key challenges facing injection moulders, and looks at the role that automation can play in boosting productivity.
Unlocking the real value in Polypropylene
Where polypropylene’s range of useful properties makes it highly suitable for many applications, recycling has been problematic. However, after eight years of intensive research, a new project has recently been launched to unlock the material’s value by making circular food-grade recycled polypropylene from post-consumer packaging. Project lead, Professor Edward Kosior of recycling consultancy, Nextek, explains. 6
Regulars and Features 09 INDUSTRY NEWS 17 AUTOMATION AND ROBOTICS 21 PURGING AND PROCESS EFFICIENCY 25 RECLAMATION AND RECYCLING 31 MACHINERY 33 TESTING AND INSPECTION 37 POLYMERMAN 38 SOFTWARE GUIDE 39 BUYERS’ GUIDE 42 NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE
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INDUSTRY | NEWS Sandiacre plastic moulding firm receives £250,000 cash injection from MEIF A firm based in Sandiacre, Nottingham, which specialises in plastic and metal injection moulding has secured a £250,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) Debt Finance, managed by Maven Capital Partners. H.P.M Limited (HPM) will use the funding package to supplement its working capital, strengthen its presence in the region and hire three additional staff. HPM produces customised components, subassemblies, complete product assemblies and testing for various industries including the aerospace and medical sectors. Andrew Eyre, Managing Director at HPM said: “We are extremely excited to receive the funding from MEIF and Maven, which will allow us to fulfil our growth strategy whilst contributing to regional development.”
British Plastics Federation issues response to latest instalment of BBC’s ‘War on Plastic’ series The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has issued a statement in response to the latest instalment of the BBC’s ‘War on Plastic’ series. The association says that although it supports the programme’s ambitions to highlight the importance of considering everyday decisions for the benefit of the environment, it is calling for a balanced argument, particularly where plastics are enablers for good. “Leaving the environment in a better state for future generations is extremely important and programmes like ‘War on Plastic’ are rightly encouraging people
to think about how everyday decisions can make a difference,” the statement reads. “However, calling a programme ‘War on Plastic’ does not suggest a balanced evaluation of a complex situation and seems to suggest that the material should be condemned in all applications. In fact, plastic is an enabling technology that is vital to almost every major industry. As we have stated before: the enemy is not plastic, the enemy is plastic waste.” The BPF points out that “the unnecessary use of any material is wasteful” and all materials have an environmental impact.
LEGO Group to invest over £300 million over three years to accelerate sustainability efforts The LEGO Group has announced plans to invest up to US$400 million (approx. £310.7 million GBP) over three years to accelerate sustainability and social responsibility initiatives. The company says the investment will cover both long-term investments and ongoing costs and, as a next step, it will begin to phase out single-use plastic bags used in LEGO boxes to package the loose bricks. This is part of its ambition to make all its packaging sustainable by the end of 2025. From 2021, Forest Stewardship Council-certified recyclable paper bags will be trialled in boxes.
LEGO will phase out single-use bags as part of a new sustainability initiative
Niels B Christiansen, The LEGO Group CEO, said: “We have received many letters from children about the environment asking us to remove singleuse plastic packaging. We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change.”
Co-op launches in-store film recycling scheme for “scrunchable” plastics Co-op has launched an in-store recycling trial for flexible plastics that encourages shoppers to deposit film not currently collected by local authorities. Shoppers are now able to recycle ‘scrunchable’ plastic film in a 50-store rollout trialling the new initiative, which is part of the retailer’s plans to tackle plastic pollution, as well as establish an accessible disposal route for the material. As part of the trial, instore collection points will accept all types of clean, ‘scrunchy’ plastic film – from any brand or retailer – including plastic carrier bags, lids from ready meals and yoghurt pots, wine box inners, chocolate, cake and biscuit wrappers, fruit and vegetable flow wrap and toilet roll wrappers. Messaging asking
shoppers to ‘clean it, scrunch it, bin it’ will feature on store signage in a bid to educate consumers on what to do with their waste plastic. The deposited film waste will then go on to be sorted and where possible, processed into waste disposal bin liners for use in Co-op stores. Co-op, which makes over 750 million pieces of plastic film annually, will trial the initiative across stores in the south of England, before rolling
it out across the rest of its estate early next year, making it the largest film collection scheme of its kind in the UK. Jo Whitfield, Co-op Food CEO, said: “We’re pleased to be trialling a proposal that we hope offers a simple solution to an everyday issue. Learnings will help us to prompt a positive change in consumer behaviour over the coming months, ahead of our national roll out next year.”
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Andel Plastics celebrates 45 years in business Birmingham-based Andel Plastics is celebrating a milestone 45 years in business. The family-run firm, which started out toolmaking from a domestic garage in Solihull in the mid1970s, is today a fullservice provider offering component design, production tooling and moulding from a large manufacturing facility. Initially founded by Barrie Flowers, the firm underwent a Management Buyout in 2010 that saw current owner (and the founder’s daughter), Helena, take over ownership. In the years since, the firm has expanded its offering to include component concept feasibility advice, mould flow analysis, prototype tooling, through to full production tooling and moulding. Commenting, Helena Flowers said: “I love my job and the fact I learn something new every day. This is vital to keep innovating in terms of reducing waste, producing quality products and keeping manufacturing in the UK. Though 2020 has been tough, we have taken the time to look at our processes and invest in machinery and training to help us innovate and secure the future.” Helena Flowers
First produce in food-grade recycled flexible packaging hits Tesco shelves A pioneering recycling project for soft and flexible plastics has resulted in the first food items on sale in new packaging using these materials in Tesco this week. Following a trial involving an entire supply chain, soft plastic collected from Tesco customers in the UK is being used to produce new food-safe packaging, with cheese being the first product utilising the material. Plastic Energy, SABIC, Sealed Air and Bradburys Cheese partnered with Tesco to conduct the trial to prove that soft plastic, that would typically go to waste, can be recycled multiple times into new food grade plastic as a part of a closed-loop recycling system. Recycling collection points for soft plastics were introduced into ten Tesco stores in the south west of England in 2019 to discover ways to help
address the limitations around the recycling of flexibles and create a closed-loop system. To prove the concept, soft plastic material collected from Tesco customers was sent to Plastic Energy, which converted the used packaging into oil through its advanced recycling process called pyrolysis. This recycled oil was used by SABIC in its production process as an alternative to traditional fossil materials to make new plastic pellets that
are as safe and effective as virgin plastic. The pellets were used by Sealed Air, which developed one of its existing plastic packaging designs to use this material, while still meeting all the performance requirements of Tesco’s cheese supplier, Bradburys. Seven different cheeses packed at Bradburys using this flexible plastic are now being stocked in Tesco’s stores. The packaging will contain a minimum
The new, recycled food-safe packaging
of 30 per cent recycled material from this new recycling process. James Bull, Head of Packaging at Tesco commented: “This exciting new partnership has the potential to show that every piece of plastic we use can be recycled. If we can roll out this approach at scale throughout our industry it could be of enormous benefit to our planet.”
Wipak UK unveils multi-million pound strategic investment for “gamechanging” sustainable product offering Wipak UK has unveiled plans for a major, multi-million pound strategic investment that it says will significantly enhance its capabilities and sustainable product offering. The Welshpool-based manufacturing site is investing over £5 million in state-of-the-art conversion equipment, which will produce flexible packaging solutions with significantly less plastic, a lower carbon footprint and which are easier to recycle. “The new machinery is set to be in operation by summer 2021 and will be a game-changer for Wipak UK, giving us a unique
value proposition for our existing and new customers,” explained Managing Director, Andrew Newbold. “The sustainability pressures that we face are possibly the most complex that I have experienced in my 24 years in the flexible packaging industry. These are challenges that we must overcome through true innovation and I find it increasingly frustrating to see examples of greenwashing in the market.” The investment project is aligned with Wipak UK’s ambitious future growth plans, with the new conversion machines expected to
create more than 50 new jobs for the local area in the coming years. Newbold concluded: “At a time when some packaging companies are consolidating their UK operations, Wipak UK is continuing to expand. “We are part of the familyowned, European-based Wipak Group and this investment – which is the largest investment in Wipak UK’s history – gives a very clear message of the Company’s commitment to the UK packaging market, belief in UK manufacturing capabilities and recognition of the hard work of our employees at our site in Welshpool.”
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AS COST EFFICIENT, SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING HOLDS ITS POSITION AS TOP PRIORITY FOR PLASTICS PROCESSORS, A CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT (CCA) HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT SAVINGS. BP&R SAT DOWN WITH PETER HASLOP, ENERGY TECHNICAL DIRECTOR AT THE BRITISH PLASTICS FEDERATION, WHICH ADMINISTERS THE SCHEME, TO EXPLAIN TO READERS HOW THEY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT? A Climate Change Agreement (CCA) is a voluntary agreement that includes targets to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. The scheme is provided by the UK government, and BPF Energy administers the CCA scheme on behalf of the plastics industry. Put simply, having a CCA helps your company reduce its carbon emissions by improving productivity and energy efficiency and entitles you to a reduced Climate Change Levy (CCL), which is added to energy bills. CCAs have now been around for almost 20 years. The CCL was introduced in 2000 but the plastic industry was initially not entitled to CCL tax relief due to the emissions rules. After a change in legislation in 2006, it took three more years before the plastics industry achieved an umbrella agreement and, from October 2009, plastics companies were entitled to a CCA. Plastics sector CCA schemes have been responsible for saving thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions and millions of pounds on energy bills. The entire sector has saved over £10m so far. However, the window to apply for a CCA closes on 30 November 2020 – after which companies could lose out on this opportunity for many years. So those interested need to apply quickly! WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A CCA? Most businesses within the plastics industry are obliged to pay a CCL. We estimate that hundreds of plastics companies are still not claiming the CCL tax relief they would be entitled to if they had a CCA. Companies with a CCA are entitled to a 92 per cent reduction of their CCL for energy and 81 per cent for natural gas. On average, these savings equate to £56,000 per year for electricity and £7,500 for gas. The average site saves almost £24,000 per year. After the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme closed, the UK government increased the rates of the CCL from 1 April 2019 to compensate for the loss in
revenue, which made entering into a CCA even more attractive for companies. The government has also committed to increase the discounts available to companies with CCAs, so that the cost to industry will be neutral. The current CCL rates are £0.0081/kwh for electricity and £0.00406/kwh for gas, decreasing to £0.00775/kwh for electricity and increasing to £0.00465/kwh for gas from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2022. In the 2020 Spring budget, the Chancellor announced that he intended to increase the CCL main rates for gas in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 tax years, while freezing rates for electricity. Main CCL rates for gas will increase to £0.00568 in 2022-23 and to £0.00672 in 2023-24.
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The window to apply for a CCA closes on 30 November 2020 – after which companies could lose out on this opportunity for many years. So those interested need to apply quickly!
There is a lengthy list of eligible processes, which you can find on the BPF Energy website. Essentially your company must be a plastics processor of semi-finished or finished products. Recyclers can also benefit from a CCA, as long as they turn flaked plastic into polymer beads onsite. The government will retain the existing eligibility criteria for participating in the various CCA schemes until at least 2025. HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR A REDUCED CCL? To earn a reduced levy rate, emissions targets are calculated from a base year’s ‘specific energy consumption’, which is usually measured in kWh/kg, and there have been a succession of target periods over the years. We are about to enter into another extended CCA, which will be ‘target period 5’. The proposed target is a 6.67 per cent reduction, but this is currently being challenged by BPF Energy. Each participating company’s performance is measured and any shortfall is calculated in tonnes of CO2. Any shortfall is ‘purchased’ and paid to the government at a rate of £18 per tonne if a company wants to remain within the scheme and continue to benefit from a reduction in its CCL.
IS A CCA A GOOD IDEA FOR ALL PLASTICS COMPANIES? Whether or not a CCA will benefit your company depends on the amount you spend on energy. As a general rule, BPF Energy advises that a company should be spending over £6,500 per month (at 10p per kWh) for applications to be financially viable. Another way to assess whether a CCA is right for your company is to check your monthly energy invoices and if the total levy charge for all fuels is greater than or close to £500 per month, you should consider applying.
HOW DO PLASTICS COMPANIES APPLY FOR A CCA? If you are interested in benefiting from a CCA, the closing date for new entrants is 30 November 2020, so there really is no time to waste. If you miss this deadline you will have to wait until 2025 for the start of a new scheme or phase 3 of the current CCA scheme. For the plastics sector, the average total levy paid on energy bills without a CCA in place is around £290,000, so there are obviously considerable savings to be made. If you are interested applying for a CCA, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bpfenergy. co.uk.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Peter Haslop is the BPF’s Energy Technical Director and has an engineering background with over 48 years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, including vast experience of the energy eﬃciency and environmental technologies industries. Before joining the BPF, Peter worked for over eight years with a leading energy consultancy specialising in energy taxation. Peter is also a frequent speaker at energy eﬃciency events.
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IN THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF OUR NEW SERIES COLLABORATING WITH THE WOMEN IN PLASTICS INITIATIVE, IN WHICH BP&R SHINES A SPOTLIGHT ON ONE OF THE PLATFORM’S INSPIRATIONAL INTERVIEWEES, WE SHARE AN EXTRACT FROM WIP’S CONVERSATION WITH IMOGEN NAPPER, A MARINE SCIENTIST RESEARCHING PLASTIC POLLUTION AND NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER & SKY OCEAN RESCUE SCHOLAR, ABOUT HER GROUND BREAKING WORK AND WHY SHE’S KNOWN AS A ‘PLASTIC DETECTIVE’.
IMOGEN NAPPER: “Rather than bury my head in the sand, I wanted to be part of the solution” Interview | Grace Nolan Q: COULD YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU GOT TO YOUR CURRENT ROLE? Growing up in a small seaside town called Clevedon in the South West of the UK has meant I have always been connected to the sea. However, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school. I really enjoyed conducting my own scientific research projects but had not found a topic I wanted to completely focus on. While learning how to surf at University, I saw a plastic bag floating next to me in the water. I had typically always considered the ocean as pristine, but all I could wonder was where did this bag come from? What else was building up in the ocean? This sparked my interest and then my eyes were opened to how much litter was accumulating on beaches. Rather than bury my head in the sand, I wanted to be part of the solution. Q: WHAT DOES YOUR ROLES AS A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER & SKY OCEAN RESCUE SCHOLAR CONSIST OF, AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED? Being a National Geographic Explorer and Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar has allowed me to continue researching the different sources of plastic into the marine environment. Being involved with both organisations has been a fantastic platform to spread the message that small changes in our lives can have a huge impact for the environment. Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT SO FAR IN YOUR CAREER? For research, it would be the project I led at the University of Plymouth, which influenced microbeads being banned in facial scrubs within the UK. For outreach, it would be presenting my research on the National Geographic HQ stage, which was also a great highlight.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED SO FAR IN YOUR CAREER? The biggest challenge is seeing your research end goal approach very slowly. Sometimes things do not always go to plan, and lab work can be very time consuming. It is all worth it at the end when you can see your research making an impact. Q: HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU FEEL ROLE MODELS ARE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION AND DID YOU HAVE ONE? Extremely important. They help you pave the person you want to become. I always looked up to Jane Goodall. Her passion and determination in her research was, and still is, infectious. I remember watching her on the TV when I was younger and being completely in awe. Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS? Yes, I do! I am currently in the middle of building a washing machine lab so I can start testing different inventions that are designed to capture fibres within the clothes washing cycle. Watch this space! Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR FURTHER TRAINING IN PLASTICS? Someone once described me like a plastic detective, where I am investigating the unknown, making it known and providing answers. I plan to keep investigating! Q: DO YOU FEEL THERE IS ENOUGH INFORMATION/OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE NEXT GENERATION TO BE ENCOURAGED TO HAVE A CAREER IN YOUR LINE OF WORK? IF NO-WHAT MORE DO YOU FEEL COULD BE DONE? The best advice I have ever had was from my Mum. She said: “find your passion and follow it”. There can always be more information or opportunities, but if you really want to do something, you will find a way.
Someone once described me like a plastic detective, where I am investigating the unknown, making it known and providing answers. I plan to keep investigating! www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk
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AUTOMATION & ROBOTICS | NEWS Latest Primus model “the robotic workhorse of choice” says Wittmann Battenfeld UK Following the unveiling of the latest additions in its Primus range of robots for the plastics industry at K 2019, the joint Managing Directors of Wittmann Battenfeld UK say the latest model is fast becoming popular with UK processors. Wittmann’s Primus 16 robot was augmented at the most recent K trade fair last October with the addition of the 16T (fitted with telescoping arm for use in low head height situations) and the 48T (for use on moulding machines typically from 400t to 1,000t). Wittmann’s Primus 16, says Daniel Williams, joint Managing Director of Wittmann Battenfeld UK (WIBA UK), is fast becoming the “robotic workhorse of choice” for a multitude of besidethe-press applications and for customers as diverse as Numatic,
linear The Primus 16 e Th om fr robot p Wittmann Grou
Avalon Plastics, ATS Folkstone, and Linear. The Primus 16 has CNC control; servo motor and optimised drives for all three axes; low noise; smooth operations and minimal part removal times and
can be deployed in any injection moulding sector and fitted to any injection moulding machine. Recent months have seen interest from injection moulders who are increasingly supplying the growing
healthcare and medical markets. Of course, in every manufacturing setting, health and safety in the workplace has become a priority. Williams says WIBA UK has seen this rise significantly as an top issue for customers this year. “Social distancing and the Covid-19 pandemic have increased the necessity for manufacturers to be absolutely scrupulous in all aspects of their workplace management,” he explained. “At Wittmann Battenfeld UK we match that need with an ‘all in’ commitment that provides the latest stringent legal compliance for safety systems together with full technical assistance.” For every robot purchase, installation and commission, WIBA UK has a backroom team
that can assist with the design of all production cells, including all the necessary guarding and protection and also End of Arm Tooling (EOAT) needs. And if a WIBA customer buys a company ‘Insider’ automation package, or a complete cell, then these matters and all documentation are supplied as standard and with integral CE marking. The Wittmann Primus robot can be paired with any injection moulding machine and WIBA UK says the services it offers make the robot the entry point for futureproofing production, as Wittmann’s robotic controls will soon be able to regulate most other elements in a typical injection moulding cell. This Wittmann robotic application will be called ‘CellController’.
Universal Robots launches SME Automation Month for October Universal Robots is dedicating the month of October to help small and mid-size enterprises take advantage of collaborative robots (cobots). In what it’s calling ‘SME Automation Month’, the company is hoping to help companies take advantage of collaborative robots to get their businesses back on track, with new resources, leasing options and expert consultations made available to help users bounce back from the challenges of Covid-19. Universal Robots says that following a challenging period for
the industry, greater adoption of automation is critical in enabling UK and Irish producers to support jobs by ensuring they are competitive, efficient and flexible enough to thrive. However, it believes many SMEs still feel ill-equipped to start their journey with automation. The company has, therefore, created a range of specialist resources, leasing options and practical examples of how to successfully make the automation leap, including free assessments, easy training and leasing options.
Mark Gray, Country Manager UK&I said: “During these uncertain times, SMEs are understandably reluctant to invest in new technologies, but with cobots, smaller businesses can see the benefits almost immediately.”
Universal Robots is dedicating the month of October to help SMEs take advantage of cobots
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automation: a solution
C COVID-19 HAS LEFT NO SEGMENT OF THE UK MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY UNTOUCHED, INCLUDING THE PLASTICS SECTOR. IN THE FOLLOWING PIECE FOR BP&R, ANDY ARMSTRONG, SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER AT FANUC UK, EXPLORES SOME OF THE KEY CHALLENGES FACING INJECTION MOULDERS AND LOOKS AT THE ROLE THAT AUTOMATION CAN PLAY IN BOOSTING PRODUCTIVITY.
he lockdown that was brought into effect in March required manufacturers across the UK to either drastically reduce productivity, or shut down altogether. Although some had the capacity to respond to the crisis by engaging with critical initiatives such as the ventilator challenge, while others had to significantly alter their ways of working, all were faced with the challenge of adhering to social distancing measures. As the industry acclimatises to a new way of working, it is becoming even more apparent that production lines need to adapt in order to continue working at maximum productivity in a safe and healthy way. In an industry as cutting-edge and fast paced as plastics, this raises some particularly important questions. CHALLENGES FACING THE PLASTICS SECTOR The extent of the economic fallout of Covid-19 is still unknown, and different industries are experiencing the effects to varying degrees. History highlights the resilience of UK manufacturing, especially those in the plastics industry, but there needs to be a considered approach to mitigating the unique circumstances we now find ourselves in. Factory floor space is a precious commodity, and social distancing will mean it becomes even more of a premium. There has been some discussion around a potential side-effect of the pandemic being a â€˜green recoveryâ€™, in which environmentally friendly solutions are prioritised as the UK emerges from the lockdown. Given the intrinsic link between the plastics industry and the issue of sustainability, this will undoubtedly have an impact on manufacturers in that space. Even prior to the lockdown, the March Budget contained a number of key points with major implications for the sector, and the increased focus on a sustainable economic recovery will require plastics manufacturers to continue working towards this goal.
and safety measures. Crucially, automation also provides operational contingency should further lockdown measures be introduced in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE When it comes to automation, the biggest challenge to overcome is how far behind the UK lags behind international competitors in terms of robot density. Germany, for example, has four times the number of robots per 10,000 workers, while South Korea has recently reached 300,000 industrial robots in operation. This has a tangible effect on the ability of businesses to continue to achieve strong levels of output, even as Covid-19 necessitates social distancing.
Another significant challenge for UK manufacturers is that the pandemic was, by definition, a global event. International restrictions on movement, and indeed localised lockdowns around the world, have put pressure on businesses who have international supply chains. This is particularly true of those that rely on far-eastern operations, and it may be the case that a post-lockdown world will see a greater emphasis on resilient European operations. THE ROLE OF AUTOMATION The recent focus on social distancing in UK manufacturing has brought attention to the role that automation can play. The ability to automate elements of the production line can help businesses to maintain high levels of output, without putting employees in close contact with one another, and therefore contravening health 18
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or a unique challenge? In the short-term, turning to technology such as collaborative robots (cobots), can enable manufacturing facilities to position employees an appropriate distance apart. Cobots excel in completing repetitive or labour-intensive tasks, and with appropriate training, it is possible to have one employee manage several machines at once. Automated sections of a production line can also allow for greater continuity in circumstances where shift patterns are altered. For example, limitations on the number of people allowed on site at any one time might affect the amount of shift-changes in a working day. For businesses that need to ramp up production but are unsure of how to do so safely with regards to social distancing, automating certain elements of a process could provide the answer. AUTOMATING IMMS Injection moulding machines can be automated in a number of different ways. One of the most popular is of course the use of industrial robots for loading, unloading and parts handling applications. In addition to the use of articulated industrial robots, we are increasingly seeing demand for collaborative robots, as well as other more bespoke solutions via our integrator partners. The progression of IoT software also presents an opportunity to quickly improve the efficiency
As the industry acclimatises to a new way of working, it is becoming even more apparent that production lines need to adapt in order to continue working at maximum productivity in a safe and healthy way. In an industry as cuttingedge and fast paced as plastics, this raises some particularly important questions. of a manufacturing process. Platforms such as Fanuc’s FIELD system are able to provide a picture of what is happening in a factory, enabling real time monitoring of processes and minimising inefficiencies in production. FINAL THOUGHTS Covid-19 has placed significant strain on UK manufacturing, and it is difficult to predict with any great certainty what lies ahead. However, we’ve seen previously just how resilient and adaptable the plastics industry is, and the improvements being made in automation technology provide a potential solution to the unique challenges of the lockdown. In November, Fanuc UK is hosting a virtual event to highlight the potential of automation in injection moulding. For information, please visit: https:// rstechnologydays.fanuc.eu/
About the Author Andy Armstrong is the Sales and Marketing Manager at Fanuc UK. Since attaining a First Class degree in Polymer Engineering, he has built up over 30 years’ experience in injection moulding, industrial automation, polymers and plastics.
Can you afford not to...? www.cjpsales.co.uk Tel: 01656 644907
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purging | News COMMENT
reduce waste, gain value
W WITH OPTIMUM MACHINERY PERFORMANCE, REDUCING WASTE AND BEST PART QUALITY HIGH ON THE AGENDA FOR PLASTICS PROCESSORS, HOW CAN PURGING COMPOUNDS PLAY A PART IN ACHIEVING THE BEST OUTCOMES? CONNOR BENYON, SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER AT CJP, EXPLAINS.
n today’s competitive market it is important that manufacturers get the optimum value from their machinery. By reducing start up waste this is easily achieved, and, by using a purging compound, the process will be stress free and easy. For example, the Dyna-purge purging compound is engineered to completely remove and stop the formation of black specs that plague the start-up process for most producers. Some 80 per cent of scrap produced can be attributed to the processing machinery and how the process of ‘start up and shut down’ is managed.
FOR MANY, THE TRUE POWER OF PURGING COMPOUNDS IS NOT REALISED UNTIL THEY ARE USED IN THE MANUFACTURING ENVIRONMENT. THESE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY FORMULATED TO ADVANCE OVER IN-HOUSE PLASTIC RESINS.
Purging compounds offer reliable options for processors
Using one barrel full of Dyna-Purge, when shutting the machine down, will result in a faster production start-up, with little to no waste, compared to hours of scrap product being produced. PAUSE FOR THOUGHT If you’re unsure of the benefits purging compounds could bring, then ask yourself the following; why turn prime material into b-grade or off-spec? And why spend time and money regrinding mouldings or extrudate, due to contamination, when you could sell them to your customers?
In a climate where waste reduction and cost efficiencies have never been more important, the ability to sell any waste product, avoid landfilling of materials and make a more streamlined production process is a wise move. TRUTH IN THE TALES For many, the true power of purging compounds is not realised until they are used in the manufacturing environment. These materials have been specifically formulated to advance over inhouse plastic resins. For example, one barrel of Dyna-purge has been developed to fully empty a barrel, removing carbon and black spots and avoiding machinery
undergoing the trauma of an aggressive clean after contamination build up. AN ADDED COST? Where purging compounds add an extra cost to the process, one must consider the benefits of investment. As mentioned, using polymer to clean a machine will not produce the most effective results. Purging compounds provide savings in both time and money lost in wasted production, as well as in wear and tear of a machine trying to remove degraded polymer, and of course, when changing from black Nylon 66 to clear Polycarbonate with minimal to no scrap, the efficiency gains speak for themselves.
Dyna-Purge is a registered trade mark of Shuman Plastics Inc.
Safic-Alcan extends distribution agreement with RapidPurge in Europe Safic-Alcan, a global distributor of speciality chemicals, has extended its distribution partnership with RapidPurge in Europe. The extended
agreement for RapidPurge, which is based in the USA, covers the UK and Ireland, as well as several others. “We are very excited to be expanding our
relationship with Safic Alcan,” said RapidPurge Owner, Joseph Serell. “They offer superior technical support and local inventory for immediate delivery.
Safic Alcan embodies the RapidPurge spirit of ‘customers first.’” Philippe Combette, CEO of Safic- Alcan, added: “We are confident that this new opportunity
will allow us to grow our business further in all the new allocated territories while enhancing our image as a global distributor of purging compounds.”
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COMPOUND IS EXACTLY RIGHT FOR PVC PRODUCTION PROCESSES
AS THE PVC INDUSTRY LOOKS TO IMPROVE PRODUCTION STANDARDS AND CREATE MORE EFFICIENT MANUFACTURING PROCESSES, BP&R SPOKE WITH THE TEAM AT BENVICDUGDALE TO FIND OUT HOW ITS RANGE OF SPECIALLY MODELLED PURGING COMPOUNDS IS PROVING ITSELF AS A MODERN OPTION FOR PVC PROCESSORS LOOKING TO RAISE THEIR GAME.
The Dugdale Benvic team have developed PVC purge product with changing legislation in mind
n line with modern manufacturing industry generally, the PVC sector is committed to raising production standards in the workplace and to the improvement of plant cleanliness and fit-for-purpose products. As a result of global compounding company, Benvic’s, acquisition of Yorkshire-based PVC compounder, Dugdale, in September 2019, business growth is now focussed on meeting demand for enhanced and effective cleaning systems for endto-end production processes, primarily companies utilising extruder and injection moulding equipment. These purging and cleaning systems are marketed under the ‘DucaPurge’ brand worldwide. Andy Tombs, Commercial Director, is leading the Benvic DucaPurge initiative. “Benvic’s support for our purging compound range comes at just the right time,” he explained. “DucaPurge compounds have been devised to answer the needs of a number of polymer processing niches. And now that BenvicDugdale has sister companies in France, Italy and Spain, the opportunities to meet those needs and for increased sales in new market territories are looking very attractive indeed.”
As other primary PVC compounds moved over to non-lead systems, purging and freeze compounds became the last materials to be identified as an issue going forward. However, Benvic-Dugdale took up the challenge; drawing from extensive industrial experience and speciality technical knowledge to create an innovative range of purge compounds which effectively re-wrote the script for PVC purging solutions. A “NEXT GENERATION” COMPOUND Benvic-Dugdale used the fundamental building blocks of non-lead stabiliser technology in order to devise a “next generation” compound with elevated temperature resistance for extended periods, making it suitable for use as a purge or freeze compound in an extensive range of both rigid and flexible PVC materials targeted across a wide range of applications.
Tombs added that “for some time it had been clear that most customers wanted much more than just a ‘one-size fits all’ purging compound.” He says the Benvic-Dugdale-created range has answered this need – more extensive and often bespoke, all formulated to work in tandem with Benvic’s customised extrusion and injection moulding compounds, and all helping to protect customers’ investment in precision production machinery, as well as delivering functional cost savings.
Eric Grange, Benvic’s Marketing Manager, said: “Modern manufacturing systems and interdependence has increased the pressure on purging compounds to do their job. The increased migration to ‘on demand’ customer orders and the need for shorter lead times has also typically resulted in smaller product manufacturing runs and thereby created a need to change materials and tooling more frequently. These new conditions have called for increased and more effective resources in order to counteract downtime, material wastage and equipment wear. To maintain profitability and service levels, companies need to make more frequent changes as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
A PRODUCT WITH CHANGING LEGISLATION IN MIND The Benvic-Dugdale R&D team, led by Dr Jeff Ryan, closely modelled the DucaPurge range with changing legislation in mind: Global REACH regulations and industry initiatives for sustainable PVC development led to the removal of stabilisers based on heavy metals, namely lead (Pb) in 2015. This posed an immediate challenge for suppliers of purging compounds who had traditionally relied on lead stabiliser technology to provide thermal stability for an effective purge material.
COVERS ALL PROCESSES The DucaPurge compound covers all PVC transformation processes and also provides a manufacturing solution due to the thermal stability issues experienced with processing of recycled PVC grades, created from post-industrial and post consumer use. Indeed, when processing recycled materials (second or third generation PVC materials), common issues are arising where DucaPurge is helping to improve efficiencies and cut costs through minimising downtime, protecting equipment and reducing waste.
First generation non-lead purge and freeze compounds possess thermal stability limitations, which fall well short of their intended use in high end rigid PVC applications where processing temperatures can reach 200°C. These initial purging compounds have therefore struggled to provide effective solutions to traditional lead-based systems.
Benvic, with the acquisition of Dugdale and DucaPurge, is now a significant provider of purging compounds across Europe. Grange added: “All the feedback from European markets to date shows that these purging compounds are outperforming our competitors and are, in fact, superior and preferable to the traditional lead-based systems of yesteryear.”
Don’t go nuts because of black specks!
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reclamation & Recycling | News Recent investment helps Preston Plastics weather Coronavirus storm Polypropylene film recycler, Preston Plastics, says a multi-million pound investment in new technology earlier this year has helped it through the challenges prevented by the Covid19 pandemic. The Lancashire-based firm installed an Interema plastics extrusion machine from Erema in June, boosting capacity at the firm by 80 per cent and allowing it to recycle some 11,000 tonnes of material each year.
The recent pandemic created the perfect storm for the company; panic buying and working from home meant food packaging increased, yet manufacturers who use the resulting recycled pellet ground to a halt. However, rather than close its doors, Preston Plastics recognised its responsibilities as key workers and continued to service customers throughout. Managing Director, Wayne Clark, explained:
“It’s been a difficult time for everyone to get through. For us personally we had to manage unprecedented stock levels and deal with no income for several weeks. However, we pride ourselves on our level of service and were conscious that we didn’t want to leave any of our customers struggling with a backlog of waste.” He continued: “Having the extra Erema has meant we could turn this excess stock into repro pellet ready for the market to return and, while we worried this might take some time to recover, we have sold all of this already. We are proud that our customers can rely on us even in the most challenging times.” Preston’s investment helped it through challenging times recently
Jaguar Land Rover joins forces with ECONYL nylon to develop highquality interiors made from waste Jaguar Land Rover has committed to developing high-quality interiors made from ocean and landfill waste. Next-generation Jaguar and Land Rover models will feature floor mats and trims made with ‘Econyl’ fibre from recycled industrial plastic, fabric offcuts, and nets from both the farming industry, and those abandoned in the ocean. Created by Aquafil, a global leader in the synthetic fibres industry, the regenerated nylon has already been used by high-end fashion, sportswear and luxury watch brands. Adrian Iles, Senior Engineer of Interior Systems at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Our designers and engineers are committed to developing the next generation of
sustainable materials that will feature on future Jaguar and Land Rover models. We place a great deal of focus on the creation of new, sustainable materials, using the latest, most innovative techniques and textiles. Minimising waste, re-using materials and reducing carbon emissions sits at the heart of our Destination Zero mission. This pioneering materials research is one of the key ways we’ll achieve this and is an integral part of our design offering to our customers.”
WRAP’s annual Recycling Tracker 2020: levels are higher and more consistent – but still room for improvement Findings from WRAP’s latest annual recycling survey indicate that overall levels of recycling are high - and an established norm in UK households. The ‘Recycling Tracker’, which gathers evidence on recycling attitudes, knowledge and behaviour, undertook a total of 5,297 interviews in March 2020 (prior to the Covid-19 lockdown). The survey found almost nine in ten UK households say they ‘regularly’ recycle, in contrast to only just WRAP’s survey found nine out of 10 of UK households recycles regularly
under one in ten who recycle ‘occasionally’ and one in 25 who recycle ‘rarely’ or ‘never’. The survey found that recycling is increasing and becoming more consistent. Just over 62 per cent of UK households report extra recycling of one or more items in the past year. People aged 18-34, those with children at home and those who have seen the Recycle Now brand (particularly ‘Britain Recycles’, ‘Britain Does’ and Recycle Week) are more likely to report extra recycling. On average, UK households dispose of
one and a half items that could be recycled in the general rubbish, including mainly foil, aerosols and plastic detergent or cleaning bottles. Some 82 per cent mistakenly put one or more items in the recycling that are not accepted locally – such as mainly plastic film/wrapping, toothpaste tubes and glass cookware or Pyrex. Peter Maddox, Director, WRAP UK, said: “It’s very impressive that nine out of 10 of us recycles regularly, and I’m proud to know that people who have seen
the Recycle Now brand are likely to recycle more. However, we still have a way to go in terms of correctly identifying what can and cannot be recycled.” There has been an increase in positive environmental outlooks, with a significant increase in the proportion agreeing with the statement ‘I am prepared to make lifestyle compromises to benefit the environment’ (from 64 per cent in 2018 to 72 per cent now). It is not clear yet if this is a short-term response to 2020 or a sustained trend.
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UNLOCKING THE REAL VALUE IN POLYPROPYLENE
W WHERE POLYPROPYLENE’S RANGE OF USEFUL PROPERTIES MAKES IT HIGHLY SUITABLE FOR MANY APPLICATIONS, RECYCLING HAS BEEN PROBLEMATIC. HOWEVER, AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF INTENSIVE RESEARCH, A NEW PROJECT HAS RECENTLY BEEN LAUNCHED TO UNLOCK THE MATERIAL’S VALUE BY MAKING CIRCULAR FOODGRADE RECYCLED POLYPROPYLENE FROM POSTCONSUMER PACKAGING. IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE, PROJECT LEAD, PROFESSOR EDWARD KOSIOR OF RECYCLING CONSULTANCY, NEXTEK, EXPLAINS.
olypropylene (PP) can be best described as the ultimate single-use plastic. Its unique and useful properties range from low cost, transparent, rigid, tough, filmable, living hinge, through to light weight and easily printed, so little wonder PP products come in a bewildering range of applications, shapes and sizes. This might make it sound like the golden bullet of polymers, but in fact this versatility makes it challenging to recycle, which is why there is no food-grade rPP, despite the fact that PP encases most of our foods, from soup and yoghurt pots, meat and fruit trays, films and fast food packaging. Whilst food-grade PP will claim to be recyclable, we still produce virgin PP for all food-grade requirements. As a specialist in plastics recycling, one of the most pressing enquiries I have been receiving from retailers and brand owners alike relates to making PP recyclable to food-grade standard. Following eight years of intense research and commercial trials we are now poised to finally achieve this by unlocking the value in PP and turning it into much sought after, high quality foodgrade rPP. This has led to the multi-client NEXTLOOPP project.
THE HOLY GRAIL OF RECYCLING NEXTLOOPP’s mission is to create circular foodgrade PP from post-consumer packaging, with a focus on assisting UK participants to put PP back into new packaging before 2025. Participants will be given the opportunity to tap into all Nextek’s cutting edge technology to finally close the loop on food-grade PP. To achieve this will mean going beyond the sorting process. This is a unique opportunity that encompasses powerful decontamination technology linked to innovative food grade sorting technology (PRISM) that really works, right now. As such, NEXTLOOPP sits at the intersection of groundbreaking technology that offers a total, 360-degree solution to recycling post-consumer PP waste and turn it into food-grade rPP. This will be at a rate of at least 30 per cent (and possibly 50 per cent), to help avoid the upcoming UK plastics tax, which will be £200,000 for every 1000 tonnes of packaging used. BUSTING THE SORTING MYTH One of the current misconceptions is that evolved sorting will solve our recycling woes. This is not the case; sorting is only one part of the solution. Whilst the specific sorting technologies from chemical markers (such as fluorescent marker-based PRISM)
Polypropylene Film Recycling Specialists Material Recycled in the UK Rec ycli ng fo r a sust ainable future
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WWW.ULTRAPOLYMERS.COM | YOUR PARTNER FROM DESIGN TO PRODUCTION to digital watermarks, go some way towards resolving the sorting and identification issues, the next and vital step is the decontamination. Without this we are simply left with well sorted post-consumer plastic that we still can’t turn into food-grade rPP. FIRST MATERIAL OF ITS KIND We have calculated that the 7000tpa produced at the first plant will be quickly pre-ordered as it will be the first material of its type in the EU and the UK, and the goal is to use rPP to manufacture a range of products such as film, sheet, thermoformed trays and injection moulded pots, tubs and trays to test all participants’ own products for processability and suitability for food applications. This will help ensure participants are ready to implement recycled content into their packaging once the production facilities are up and running. This is by no means a speculative project, as the technologies have been proven and early trials have been 100 per cent successful in production and have passed food-grade migration tests. As such, we see this as a transformational pathway to circular PP packaging, and a timely one at that, because PP is now facing an existential crisis. DESIGN FOR RECYCLING Despite its many attributes some countries are considering delisting PP as recyclable. Unlike PET and HDPE, that are widely used in foods and beverages as bottles, PP’s prolific nature defines it as complex to recycle since recycling systems prefer to target uniform inputs, such as clear bottles of one specific polymer, and PP is made in many grades (homopolymer, copolymer and random copolymer) in many colours and many formats (pots, tubs and trays). Perhaps the most alarming aspect is that most of these packages have never been designed to be recycled. Yet in the UK alone about 300,000tpa of PP is used in packaging of which about 70 per cent (210,000tpa) is food-grade packaging. Currently, PP makes up 20 per cent of global plastics production, a figure that is growing at six per cent. In 2018, 56 million metric tons were produced valued at USD$ 97 billion (approx. £75bn GBP) and it has been estimated that by
Now is not the time to ban PP, but rather we need to turn it into the fantastic polymer resource it has the potential to be. 2025 we will be producing 83 million metric tons worth USD$ 147 billion (approx. £114bn GBP). PP is present at a critical percentage of the packaging stream, which means it can be readily recycled once it is collected. NEW ERA FOR PP Now is not the time to ban PP, but rather we need to turn it into the fantastic polymer resource it has the potential to be. The fact that it is currently either going to landfill or being reused where other lesser polymers would suffice is a waste of precious resources. Why produce virgin PP when we have the knowledge and technology to efficiently identify, sort, decontaminate and recycle the current pots, trays and tubs that are being produced? MECHANICAL VERSUS CHEMICAL We now have the opportunity to transform the existing recycling and decontamination processes to boost economic efficiency and reduce cost, and mechanical recycling makes perfect sense to achieve this. The ongoing debate around mechanical versus chemical recycling has divided many, however, chemical recycling has a higher carbon footprint than mechanical recycling and certainly requires more intensive capital per plant. Furthermore, we are still some years away before any large-scale plants are in operation and we need immediate, functional solutions. Mechanical recycling is the perfect low-cost, highly efficient solution particularly when we are using high quality feedstock that can be built almost anywhere globally. NEXT STEPS The next key steps towards producing foodgrade rPP for re-use in consumer products are the establishment of EFSA and USFDA certification for the manufacturing processes. As the project unfolds, we will be working closely with all participants as they share their input, suggestions and requirements from the very early stages in the project, right the way through. This will be a unique opportunity to benefit from our technical expertise as we develop new guidelines for food-grade recycling for brand owners, retailers and converters. There will be no middle measures to ensure that the loop for PP gets increasingly better with future cycles.
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MACHINERY | NEWS New all-electric Engel machine helps moulder upscale production of medical components An injection moulding firm based in south west England has been utilising a newly purchased all-electric moulding machine as it upscales production of medical components. Plasticom Group invested in its fourth Engel injection moulding machine in response to an increase in demand for the rapid production of specialist medical devices. In particular, it has been supplying components to the household name, highprofile companies associated with the ‘Ventilator Challenge UK’, earlier this year. To accompany the newly purchased all-electric at its site in Ashford, Kent, Plasticom’s machine has been paired with an Engel three-axis beam robot to further increase efficiency and accuracy. Commenting, Sonia Simmonds, Director at Plasticom, said: “From the delivery of the new
machine it took us a week to be up and running. During this time, we moved a production tool from an existing hydraulic machine to the new one and the Engel service team provided us with support in training for the all-electric technology.” Nigel Baker, Managing Director at Engel UK added: “We were delighted to be able to support Plasticom in their move to invest in technology to further improve the service they offer to their clients. “Engel all-electric machines offer continuous repeatable performance with both high precision and volume. Many medical component manufacturers partner with Engel to achieve the highest level of cleanliness, precise speed and energy savings. These are all features that a company involved in medical component moulding like Plasticom find essential.”
Edwin Simmonds, Owner, Plasticom
Arburg adds new vertical rotary table to machine range Arburg is expanding its range of vertical injection moulding machines with a new version with a 1300mm rotary table. The Allrounder 1300 T offers more space for heavier moulds compared with previous versions – and with a significantly reduced installation area. As with its size 1600 T big brother, many of the Allrounder 1300 T’s components have been optimised in terms of installation area, weight and ergonomics. The clamping unit, machine base and control cabinet have also been redesigned in the process. Compared to the Allrounder 1200 T, the new machine features a 10 per cent smaller footprint and installation
height. The table diameter is now 100 millimetres larger, while the ergonomic table and working height is around five per cent lower at 950 millimetres. The mould mounting surface has been increased by 15 per cent and the up to 100 kilograms higher mould weight per mould half corresponds to a 25 percent increase. The re-engineered
cable routing and easily accessible media connections allow a quick and easy set-up. The Allrounder 1300 T is the first rotary table machine to be equipped with the Selogica ND control system as standard, making it particularly convenient to operate. Clamping forces of 1,000 and 1,600 kN and injection units in sizes 70 to 400 or 800 are available.
der Allroun 1300T
Netstal launches new machine for PET market
The new Netstal PET-LINE
Netstal has launched the latest machine in its portfolio, which it says is set to “shuffle the cards” in the PET market. The new PET-LINE injection moulding machine features lateral removal and offers full compatibility with existing side-entry moulds and after-cooling stations. Kicking off the new series is a machine model equipped with a clamping force of 4,000 kN and a 6000-injection unit that enables the use of moulds with up to 128 cavities. The coming years will see the launch of further models to optimise production of all common beverage applications. The machine has been designed to give superlative performance, whilst delivering the lowest possible operational and unit costs. “By switching to side-entry we are re-shuffling the cards within the PET world,” explained Renzo Davatz, CEO of KraussMaffei HighPerformance AG. “The Netstal brand is now also a perfect alternative for www.britishPLASTICS.co.uk
users whose production layout focuses on machines with lateral removal and who have a corresponding stock of injection moulds.” As a result of an increasing focus on the processing of rPET in the coming years, the PETLINE offers optimised processing of recyclates. A new screw design was developed for the highperformance, two-stage injection unit. Preform moulders will benefit from an expansive process window and a robust plasticising process during the processing of up to 100 per cent rPET. Intrusion and automatic metering ensure a homogeneous and consistent melt quality, low AA values, minimal IV drop and gentle material feed. 31
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testing & inspection | news Mecmesin expands range with Falling Dart Impact Testers Mecmesin has expanded its portfolio of force and materials testing equipment with a new range of falling dart impact testers. The new MEC-FD testers are an ideal solution for measuring the impact resistance or toughness of plastic films, such as thin PET material used in the manufacture of PPE aprons for healthcare professionals. Undergoing testing ensures products are fit-for-purpose and that the plastic films are in compliance with ASTM D1709 and ISO 7765-1 free-falling dart Methods A and B. Key features of the MEC-FD testers, says Mecmesin, include the ability to test a range of materials, including plastic films, thin sheets, flexible packaging material and paper. The testers are available as manual or pneumatically-operated models, are supplied with weights and darts and offer a small footprint for desktop or laboratory bench. D
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Nelipak receives ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for Irish healthcare packaging lab Nelipak Laboratory Services, a producer of healthcare packaging testing for the medical device and pharmaceutical sectors, has announced that laboratory its Clara, Ireland, has received ISO/ IEC 17025 accreditation from the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB). ISO 17025 accreditation certifies that Clara, established in 2009, is a commercially independent laboratory providing testing services on packaging systems and materials. The lab provides a comprehensive range of testing services to support package testing requirements, which are necessary for product validation, used to determine causes of
product failure and help to prevent potential quality issues with products. The facility provides services for accelerated aging, transportation/ distribution simulation, package/seal integrity testing, material testing and analytical testing – with all testing performed to International Standards. Nelipak advises on what testing is suitable for certain applications and meets customer requirements with fast turnaround times and accurate and professional reports. “At Nelipak, we are committed to achieving and maintaining the highest standard of quality and service in all aspects of our laboratory testing. This commitment is underpinned by the
hard work of our team resulting in achieving this accreditation,” said Paul Arthur, Operations Director, Nelipak. “Our team of experts is dedicated to advising, problem solving and providing consultation on all aspects of packaging regulation and standards for our customers in the medical device, pharmaceutical, packaging, life science and food industries.”
To meet growing demand for services, the lab recently expanded its climatic conditioning capacity with the addition of a large programmable ASC WZH 10 B1 CO climatic conditioning chamber. The chamber enables the lab to test packaging and products that may be exposed to a range of climatic stresses during distribution throughout the world.
Atlas releases new instrument for testing materials exposed to UVC radiation Atlas, a producer of materials testing equipment, has launched a safe and cost-effective solution for evaluating materials exposed to high-energy radiation from UVC sterilisation devices. The new Atlas UVCTest exposure instrument is based on Atlas’ industry-standard fluorescent/UV platform and specifically designed to quickly evaluate the durability of materials exposed to high-energy UVC radiation generated by increasingly popular UVC sterilisation devices. Used for over 40 years to disinfect air, water and non-porous surfaces in medical, sterile
work, food, and water treatment facilities, UVC technology is increasingly being employed as a germicide across a much wider range of applications, including transportation, fitness, retail, office, healthcare and home. The result is that more materials are being exposed to energetic, short-wavelength radiation, which can degrade coatings and finishes; fade colorants; embrittle polymers, plastics and textiles; and compromise electrical components. Filtered xenon and fluorescent sources specified in AATCC, ASTM and ISO are
designed to reproduce natural solar spectra at the Earth’s surface (UVC radiation is absorbed in the ozone layer). Therefore, current instruments can’t predict a material’s UVC resistance. This says, Atlas, is where the new UVCTest meets the challenge. It features a specially engineered test chamber incorporating eight proprietary UVC lamps with an output that peaks at 254nm to match the typical spectrum of UVC sterilisation devices. The UVCTest delivers best-in-class distribution of irradiance and temperature; advanced calibration technology
and proprietary access ports to significantly reduce risk of damaging UVC exposure. Featuring simple touchscreen operation, the UVCTest is designed for ‘plugand-play’ operation and requires minimal maintenance. The new Atlas UVCTest
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Making an IMPACT
IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ALAN THOMAS, MARKETING MANAGER AT ZWICKROELL UK, WRITES FOR BP&R ABOUT THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF IMPACT TESTING IN THE QUALITY CONTROL OF PLASTICS.
haracterising materials is essential to ensure reliable performance and quality - and materials testing plays a vital role in modern manufacturing. The characteristics of different materials can be determined using a variety of mechanical tests, of which the most critical are impact tests. Impact tests are used to measure the toughness of a specific material and, in a pendulum impact test, the impact force is measured by striking the sample with a swinging arm. The degree of deformation of the sample is then measured after the impact to determine its toughness. A material’s toughness is a characteristic of its ability to absorb energy in the event of plastic deformation. Brittle materials exhibit low toughness due to their ability to withstand a small amount of plastic deformation. A material’s impact value can also vary with temperature and the impact energy of a material normally decreases at lower temperatures as it becomes more brittle.
Impact testing is performed across the supply chain, from resin manufacturers to compounders and processors, to help in controlling product quality at all stages of the manufacturing process.
DEMAND FOR ACCURATE AND REPEATABLE TESTING Plastics are increasingly being employed in a wide range of industries, particularly the automotive sector. As a result, the demand for accurate and repeatable testing is increasing in order to evaluate the performance of a wide range of plastics under different environmental conditions.
TYPES OF TEST There are different types of pendulum impact tests, of which the two major types are Charpy and Izod. The Charpy impact test is also referred as the Charpy V-notch test. In this high strainrate test, the amount of energy absorbed by a material during fracture is measured and from this absorbed energy, the material’s notch toughness is determined.
Impact testing can be used to assess the ability of a polymer to resist fracture, a key concern for the automotive industry. Characterisation is essential because the addition of colourants and other treatments to a polymer compound may change its impact properties.
The Izod impact test also involves the use of a notched sample to measure impact energy, but the Izod impact test differs from the Charpy impact test as the test sample is secured in a cantilevered beam configuration rather than in a three-point bending arrangement.
PLASTICS ARE INCREASINGLY BEING EMPLOYED IN A WIDE RANGE OF INDUSTRIES, PARTICULARLY THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR. AS A RESULT, THE DEMAND FOR ACCURATE AND REPEATABLE TESTING IS INCREASING IN ORDER TO EVALUATE THE PERFORMANCE OF A WIDE RANGE OF PLASTICS UNDER DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS.
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Get ready for increased costs and availability issues as UK plastic processors face the impact of UK/EU27 transition agreement ending
IN THIS EDITION OF HIS REGULAR COLUMN, OUR RESIDENT MATERIALS EXPERT, MIKE BOSWELL, LOOKS AT THE IMPACT THAT THE END OF THE UK/ EU27 TRANSITION AGREEMENT COULD HAVE ON MATERIALS SUPPLY CHAINS AND HOW PROCESSORS CAN PREPARE.
ccording to the British Plastics Federation the United Kingdom imports £4.76bn of plastic materials, of which £4.0bn is from the EU and £760m from the rest of the world. Data from Euromap reveals that the UK’s installed polymer production capacity represents less than 60 per cent of the quantity consumed by UK plastic processors and, when taking account of exports from the UK along with the polymer types and grades that are not manufactured in the UK, our sector may be up to 80 per cent reliant on imports. Whilst, from a European perspective, Italy is in a similar position, it should be noted that the UK is not connected by a land border to mainland Europe and will be leaving the EU at the end of this year; as such the UK is heavily reliant on the smooth arrival of plastic raw materials via ports and the Channel Tunnel. At the time of writing, the UK’s main port for the import of containerised goods is suffering congestion with the issues summarised in the following communication from a shipping agent: “Felixstowe is continuing to see huge import volumes; continued issues with the VBS (vehicle booking system) resulting in a major lack of available slots and a continued lack of labour at the port.” As a direct result, CMA CGM (a shipping line with its own fleet of containers) has announced the application of a congestion surcharge at Felixstowe of $150 per teu (defined as a 20-foot equivalent unit) and “expects other carriers to make similar announcements in the coming days.” Based upon plastic raw materials being imported in either 20’ or more typically 40’ containers, the ‘direct’ cost implications of the CMA CGM surcharge of plastic raw material imports can be summarised as follows:
Who is ‘Polymerman’?
Mike Boswell is Managing Director of UK materials distributor, Plastribution, as well as the Chairman of the British Plastic Federation’s Polymer Compounders and Distributors Group and its ‘BREXIT Committee’. ‘Polymerman’ is the title used for announcements made via his Twitter account. This column is compiled using data from PIE (Plastics Information Europe) www.plastribution. co.uk | www.pieweb.com
per teu Exchange Rate per TEU
In addition to the issue of direct cost inflation, UK plastic processors also face the risk that the arrival of raw material is delayed with the potential of down-time, additional costs to source alternative polymer and failure to meet the expectations of their own customers. ADDITIONAL CAUSE FOR CONCERN Whilst the congestion issues at Felixstowe may be resolved in the short-term, the end of the UK/EU 27 transition period brings further cause for similar concern. Whilst it is obvious that the introduction of a ‘hard border’ between the UK and the EU is likely to delay vehicle movements and create port congestion at the ‘Channel Ports’, there is also the issue of imports from outside of Europe that actually arrive in the UK via members of the EU27. A clue to the extent of these ‘third party imports’ comes from the relatively high level of imports from Belgium and the Netherlands, where plastics raw materials imported from outside of Europe are landed and stored subsequent to redelivery to neighbouring European countries including the UK. From January 1st 2021, it is likely that many of these third party imports will become direct imports to the UK via deep-sea container ports such as Felixstowe, this diversion will attempt to avoid the both risk of Channel Port border delays and potential complexities resulting from import duties (which may change significantly depending upon what trade deals are put in place both with the EU27 and other countries); these additional volumes of plastic raw materials and other products have the potential to once again overburden available capacity at Felixstowe. The important message for UK plastic processors is for them to perform due diligence on their raw material supply chains, paying particular attention not only to those supplies from European polymer producers but also that are currently third party imports, and where necessary put physical contingencies in place to ensure that the almost inevitable disruptions to supply do not impact their manufacturing operations.
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NEWS FROM THE FRONTLINE
IN THE LATEST INSTALMENT OF HIS EXCLUSIVE COLUMN FOR BP&R, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE BPF, PHILIP LAW, LOOKS AT THE RECENT ‘VIRTUAL’ HOSTING OF ITS ANNUAL DINNER AND THE KEY POINTS RAISED FROM THE GUEST SPEAKERS, AS WELL AS THE FEDERATION’S RECENT RESPONSE TO THE BBC’S ‘WAR ON PLASTICS’ PROGRAMME.
ell, we’ve managed to maintain the tradition of our Annual Dinner in the guise of an ‘Annual Dinner Virtual Get Together’ to mark the event’s 87th outing. We didn’t want to disturb the unbroken tradition of holding a Dinner, so we reconfigured it for late one afternoon with speeches from BPF’s President, Martin Althorpe, an introduction from myself and with awards from the BPF and the Worshipful Company of Horners. We benefited from the kind sponsorship of LG Energy and this enabled us to mail out 50 bottles of wine to the first 50 registrants; a nice touch. The Virtual Get Together gave us an opportunity to explain the BPF’s programme for 2021 in simple terms. You can present a complex programme larded with countless issues in many ways, but I think it can be boiled down to four main elements. The first is helping to rebuild the industry after the traumas of 2020. The second is to develop the support of politicians and communities. The third is to reinforce our productivity to sharpen our competitiveness in the face of Brexit and an unfavourable global trading environment. And fourth is to sell that competitiveness overseas to highlight the UK as the go-to place for plastics expertise. This will be the time when the ‘British’ in ‘British Plastics Federation’ will have to be at its most emphatic. THE SKILLS ISSUE The skills issue remains a key part of the BPF’s programme and I am pleased to say that the 2020 Polymer Apprentice of the Year Award, run by the Worshipful Company of Horners in conjunction with the BPF, is now open for entries - with the deadline of 6th November 2020. Last year it was won by Jordan Clayton of Polypipe and he received a polymer apprentice certificate, ceremonial drinking horn and £500 cash. For further information on the BPF’s skills programme and how to get involved you can contact my colleague, Mo Elkhalifa, at the BPF on an melkhalifa@bpf. co.uk To assist the marketing efforts of member firms, BPF has just published its members directory for 2020/ 2021. This features some 500 companies and can be downloaded from www.BPFmembers.com. This is the most up to date and comprehensive guide available to the leading companies across the UK plastic
supply chain from raw material suppliers, equipment suppliers, processors, recyclers and service providers. It is a staple feature of our representation at UK and overseas trade fairs. WAR ON PLASTICS Inevitably, we had to take the BBC to task over its recent screening of ‘War on Plastics’. They are beset with issues over bias from many standpoints, notably political. There is certainly a strong case that on this occasion they breached their own editorial guidelines over impartiality. There are clear rules that they shouldn’t back programmes which incite ‘social activism’. Also, they have to stay away from coverage which indicates they are lobbying on an issue which is under current political consideration. With live consultations on the Plastics Packaging Tax currently underway, it seems to me that this is flagrant flouting of their own guidelines. 50 YEARS SERVICE Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity of congratulating Peter Atterby of Luxus for his 50 years’ service to the company. I have known Peter for a very large chunk of those 50 years and our paths first crossed when he was a member of a Health and Safety Task Force involved in the safeguarding of equipment. Since then, we have interacted on training issues, as well as exporting, and he kindly invited me to his plant in Louth about three years ago for the launch of new material grades for the automotive industry. Peter’s is a great name in the UK plastics industry. He has made such a great contribution to the development of Luxus, now a major employer in Lincolnshire, and Luxus itself represents the best of our emerging plastics circular economy. www.bpf.co.uk
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