PRA Magazine September 2023

Page 1

AS l A’S LEAD l NG m AGA z l NE for th E p LAS t l c S AND rubb E r l ND u S try DIGITAL


9 Sustainability

PRA's interview with Nicholas Kolesch, Vice President of Projects, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, sheds light on how collaborative initiatives involving publicprivate sectors and organisations are addressing waste management challenges in countries with limited resources, particularly in Asia

13 Building & Construction

In response to the construction sector's growing emphasis on sustainability, there have been innovative initiatives, notably the utilisation of recycled resources, aimed at minimising environmental impact

16 Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs)

With the current emphasis on sustainability, manufacturers of TPEs are also jumping on the bandwagon. Featured are Teknor Apex, KRAIBURG TPE, Hexpol/ Polykemi and Avient

18 Country Focus

With Thailand at the juncture of economic advancement, the Southeast Asian country is emerging as not only a thriving medical device hub in Asia but also as a model for pioneering recycling and green plastic efforts in the region

22 Packaging

Highlighted in this article are ExxonMobil’s HDPE for recyclable MDO flexible films; Dow/Mengniu’s all-PE, recyclable yoghurt pouch for China; Origin’s tie up with Terphane for biopolymer films and with Husky for PET/FDCA bottles


1 Industry News

6 Machinery News supplements

Electronics: In the ever-changing world of technology, keeping electronics safe from fires is important. This relies on using flame retardants (FRs) in plastic materials. However, recent research suggests that FRs might not be as safe, which raises concerns about their impact on the environment and health. How are manufacturers dealing with these new challenges?

Digitalisation: The rubber industry is poised to benefit from emerging policies like the EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR) and advanced traceability technology, which together emphasise ecosystem preservation and market growth of the industry sector

With the rise in electric vehicles (EVs), flame retardants (FRs) are crucial for enhancing safety in e-mobility electronics. FRs are used in components like battery enclosures and charging connectors to reduce ignition risk and slow down flames during malfunctions, ensuring the safety and reliability of e-mobility systems and supporting the growth of EVs


Arthur Schavemaker

Tel: +31 547 275005


Associate publisher/executive editor

Tej Fernandez

Tel: +6017 884 9102


senior editor

Angelica Buan



Stephanie Yuen



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In this issue
Volume 38, No 269 publlshed slNce 1985
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On the Cover


• Materials maker DuPont is selling its 80.1% stake in its Delrin resins unit to private equity firm TJC , formerly known as The Jordan Company , for US$1.8 billion. Delrin acetal homopolymer is used as a substitute for metal parts in products ranging from gear wheels to insulin pens.

• South Korea’s Lotte Chemical Corp . has divested all shares it owns in Chinese joint venture Lotte Sanjiang Chemical Co to its Chinese partner Sanjiang Chemical . The plant produces ethylene oxide, used for production of polyester, PET and liquid coolants. It suffered a US$10 million operating loss in 2021, due to an excess supply of ethylene oxide from local competitors.

• Chinese oil refiner/petchem firm Hengli Group and the Sinochem Group are winding up their Singapore-based joint venture, Hengli Oilchem , due to business considerations. Hengli Oilchem,

79% owned by Hengli and 20% by China’s staterun Sinochem, was launched in 2018.

• Packaging firm Amcor and snack brand owner Mondel e z International are investing in recycling technology pioneer Licella, for the construction of one of the first advanced recycling facilities in Australia.

• Brazilian biopolymer producer Braskem and Thai petchem firm SCG Chemicals are in a joint venture, Braskem Siam Company Limited , to produce bio-ethylene from bio-ethanol dehydration and to commercialise biobased PE technology from Lummus Technology , with a plant in Thailand.

• US recycling firm Republic Services and Luxembourgbased polymer recycling and distribution company Ravago have tied up for a US$350 million joint venture, Blue Polymers It is developing four facilities over the next four years from 2024,

designed to produce 100% PCR products with a combined capacity of around 136,000 tonnes/year.

• European listed investment firm Wendel is to sell flexible packaging firm Constantia Flexibles to an affiliate of US-based One Rock Capital Partners for EUR1.1 billion. Constantia has 7,000 employees and operates in more than 20 countries.

• US-based polymer materials design company Techmer PM is acquiring colour and additive compounder Advanced Color Technologies ( ACT ). Located in Dalton, US, ACT supplies specialty colourant and additive systems.

• US-based private investment company SK Capital Partners , through its affiliates, has signed a strategic investment to acquire a majority interest in Italian watersoluble and biodegradable films manufacturer Ecopol .

• Austrian recycling machine maker Next Generation Group ( NGG ) has acquired a majority share in HydroDyn , an engineering company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, with a R&D and technology centre in Schwerin, Germany.

• French chemical firm Arkema is acquiring Glenwood Private Equity ’s 54% stake in listed South Korean company PI Advanced Materials ( PIAM ), for EUR728 million. With sales of over EUR200 million, PIAM is a supplier of polyimide films for the consumer electronics and electric vehicles markets.

• Japan Investment Corporation ( JIC ), a fund backed by Japan's government has offered to buy out JSR Corp , a firm central to the manufacture of semiconductors, in a deal worth US$6.2 billion.


• Austrian chemical firm Borealis is to acquire Rialti , an Italian PP compounder and recycler, with a capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year.

• Malaysia’s Petronas Chemicals Group ( PCG ) has formed a dedicated specialty chemicals division to further strengthen its position within the petrochemicals industry.

• Protective materials manufacturer Chase Corporation will be acquired by an affiliate of investment funds managed by global investment firm KKR for US$1.3 billion. KKR has investments in industrial businesses, including Minnesota Rubber and Plastics, Charter Next Generation and Hyperion Materials & Technologies

• State-owned energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil ( Adnoc ) has boosted its takeover offer for German materials company Covestro to about EUR11 billion. Covestro had earlier

rejected Adnoc's initial takeover proposal, saying the offer was too low.

• UK’s Ineos is to acquire TotalEnergies ’ 50% share of chemicals and refinery complex assets in Southern France: Naphtachimie (720 ktpa steam cracker), Appryl (300 ktpa PP business), Gexaro (270 ktpa aromatics business) and 3TC (naphtha storage), which are all currently joint ventures between the two companies.

In other news, Ineos has completed the formation of a 50/50 joint venture with Chinese petchem firm Sinopec for the Tianjin Nangang Ethylene project, announced in December 2022, which is currently under construction by Sinopec and expected to be on-stream by April 2024.

• LyondellBasell has completed the acquisition of Mepol Group , a manufacturer of recycled compounds located in Italy and Poland.

• Mitsui & Co has executed a share purchase agreement to acquire 100% of STATS ( UK ) Ltd , a company which manufactures proprietary energy pipeline repair equipment and provides engineering services worldwide.

• Chemical firm LyondellBasell has acquired a 50% stake in Stiphout Industries , which is involved in the sourcing and processing of post-consumer plastic packaging waste and is located in the Netherlands.

• Chemical firm Saudi Aramco has closed the deal to acquire a 10% interest in Rongsheng Petrochemical in China for US$3.4 billion, through its subsidiary Aramco Overseas Company , based in the Netherlands.

• Methacrylates specialist firm Röhm , owned by private equity firm Advent International , has acquired Functional Forms, the polycarbonatebased films and sheet business

unit of chemical firm Sabic for an undisclosed sum.

• BASF Venture Capital GmbH ( BVC ), the corporate venture company of chemical firm BASF , has invested in Swiss start-up DePoly , which is developing a chemical recycling technology.

In other news, Replique , a digital manufacturing start-up, has spun off from Chemovator , the business incubator of BASF, and successfully closed a late seed round to further build its business.

• Private investment firm Bain Capital Private Equity has acquired Porus Labs , an Indian manufacturer of agricultural and speciality chemicals.

• Elkem ASA has acquired VUM , a Slovak producer of carbon materials. Elkem expects the acquisition to contribute with an additional turnover of around NOK360 million/year.

Industry n ews 2 SEPTEMBER 2023
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New Plants/Capacity Expansions

• Canada’s Nova Chemicals Corporation and Plastic Energy are to explore the feasibility of developing a pyrolysisdriven advanced recycling facility in the Sarnia, Ontario region. If constructed, the facility would be the largest of its kind in Canada with a potential initial capacity of 66 kt/year

• Dutch renewable chemistry firm Avantium is partnering with Thailand’s SCG

Chemicals Public Company Limited ( SCGC ) to further develop CO2based polymers and to scale-up to a pilot plant with an indicative capacity of 10 tonnes/year, in Thailand.

• Brazilian petchem firm Braskem has upped capacity at its Brazilian biobased ethylene plant by 30%. The US$87 million investment has increased capacity from 200,000 to 260,000 tonnes/ year.

• German speciality chemicals firm Evonik is to scale up and produce custom catalysts for MMA producer Röhm ’s new plant in Texas, US, which is due to be opened in 2024.

• Thailand-based Indorama Ventures Public Company has completed the expansion of its recycling facility in Brazil, supported by a ‘Blue Loan’ from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). PET capacity has


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been increased from 9,000-25,000 tonnes/year, made from post-consumer recycled (PET-PCR) material.

• BASF will increase the production capacity for its mediummolecular weight polyisobutenes (PIBs), marketed under the tradename Oppanol B, at its site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, by 25%, in response to the rising global demand for applications including fuel and lubricant additives.

• Mitsui Chemicals has broken ground

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for a new plant to produce highperformance elastomer Tafmer at its Singaporebased wholly owned subsidiary Mitsui Elastomers Singapore . The new plant will have a capacity of 120,000 tonnes/ year and is scheduled for completion in 2024. The capacity of existing facility is 225,000 tonnes/ year.

• Covestro has started production in its new plant for polyurethane elastomers systems at its integrated site in Shanghai, China.

• Packaging specialist Alpla is securing the long-term supply of food-grade PET recycling material (rPET) by investing EUR8 million in expanding its recycling plant in Radomsko, Poland.

• Styrenics maker

Ineos Styrolution , waste recycling machinery supplier Tomra and recycler EGN , are collaborating to set up a PS recycling facility, with a capacity to process 40 kt/year of waste. The new facility will be located in Krefeld,

Germany, and expected to start up in mid-2025.

• Carbon negative materials firm Origin Materials has started up what it says is the world’s first commercial CMF (chloromethyl furfural) and hydrothermal carbon (HTC) plant, located in Sarnia, Ontario. CMF, available at commercial scale for the first time, is a precursor for PET while HTC is for tyres.

• Poland’s Grupa Azoty has started up production of PP at Polymery Police, said to be one of the largest projects in the European chemical industry. The new plant will produce 437,000 tonnes/ year of PP and 429,000 tonnes/ year of propylene.

• Sasa Polyester Sanayi has selected US firm Honeywell ’s Oleflex technology to build what is said to be the world’s largest propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Yumurtalık, Turkey. On completion, the facility is expected to produce 1-million-tonnes/ year of propylene, with an integrated

complex featuring PTA, PET and POY plants.

• Chinese polymers producer Satellite Chemical is investing US$3.6 billion to construct an industrial park for alpha olefins, for use in synthetic lubricants, at Lianyungang, eastern Jiangsu province. It will include five alphaolefin units, each with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes/ year and a light olefins facility with capacity for 2.5 million tonnes/ year.

• Industrial firm Henkel recently broke ground on a new manufacturing facility of its Adhesive Technologies business unit within the Yantai Chemical Industry Park in Shandong Province, China. With an investment of EUR120 million, the new plant will enhance Henkel's production capacity of adhesive products in China.

• Munich-based Wacker Chemie is to expand its capacity by 50% for cleaning semiconductorgrade polysilicon, at its Burghausen

site by early 2025. Capital expenditures for the project are expected to exceed EUR300 million.

• Tech firm Johnson Matthey is providing its butanediol (BDO) technology to China's Fujian Zhongjing Petrochemical , which plans to build three new BDO plants in phases. The BDO will be used as feedstock for producing 600,000 tonnes/year of biodegradable plastic polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT).

• Dutch chemical firm Syclus will build/operate a plant for the production of renewable ethylene from sustainable ethanol in Chemelot Industrial Park, Geleen, Netherlands. With a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes/ year, this renewable ethanol-toethylene production plant would be a first in Europe. Ethanol will be regionally produced by CropEnergies , that

Industry n ews 4 SEPTEMBER 2023
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operates a plant for the production of renewable ethanol nearby and that acquired a major share in Syclus in 2022. The investment is estimated to be more than EUR130 million.

• Japan’s Toray Industries will again increase production capacity for Torayfan BOPP film at the Tsuchiura plant in Japan, to meet the growing demand for automotive capacitor film. When it is online in 2025, the upgraded facility will up production capacity by 40%.

Toray also plans to increase regular tow carbon fibre production capacity at two facilities, in South Carolina, US, and at the Gumi plant in South Korea. These investments will increase the Toray’s annual capacity by over 20% to 35,000 tonnes beginning in 2025.

• Germany’s BASF is gradually bringing additional alkoxylation capacity on stream in Antwerp, Belgium, and Ludwigshafen, Germany, from the second quarter of 2023. The investment benefits European

customers in particular with a significant capacity increase in excess of 150,000 tonnes/ year.

Also, BASF recently inaugurated the expansion of its Innovation Campus Shanghai, China, consisting of two new R&D buildings. The company has invested a total of EUR280 million since 2012 at its Innovation Campus Shanghai.

• Canadian chemicals firm

Nova Chemicals Corporation is developing its first mechanical recycling facility in Connersville, Indiana. The facility will process postconsumer plastic films to produce the company’s Syndigo recycled polyethylene (rPE) at commercial scale by 2025.

• Japan’s Kuraray Co will increase its ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) resin capacity. A total of 5,000 tonnes/ year will be added to the capacity of US and European bases of operation in 2024, with another 5,000 tonnes/year to be added in 2026. This 10,000-tonnes/

year total capacity increase will bring global production capacity from 103,000-113,000 tonnes/year. Also, a project team is currently deliberating on a new base of operations in Asia.

• A consortium of companies led by automaker Ford will build a US$887 million cathode manufacturing facility in Canada. The consortium includes South Korean battery producers EcoPro BM and SK On SK On’s annual production capacity in North America is expected to reach more than 180 gigawatt-hours after 2025, which is enough to power approximately 1.7 million EVs per year.

• UAE clean energy firm Masdar , Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corporation and Inpex Corporation will conduct a joint feasibility study for a carbon recycle chemicals project (CRC project) including production of the world’s first commercial-scale PP produced from CO2 and green hydrogen in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

• UK engineering firm Kent has been appointed the FEED contractor for potential expansion of US materials firm ExxonMobil ’s advanced recycling facilities, with potential new units across seven sites, based on the success of a trial unit in Texas, designed by Kent during 2021/2022. The new units are under assessment at ExxonMobil facilities located in Baytown (Texas), Beaumont (Texas), Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Joliet (Illinois), Sarnia (Canada), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium).

• Covestro that has developed a process for recycling PC, i.e. polychain plastics is now looking at the technical implementation of chemical recycling on a pilot scale, with a facility in Leverkusen. The newly developed process, is a specific chemolysis process adapted to PC. Following successful development in the laboratory, the next stage of development is the technical implementation of the process.


Bioplastics from food wastes: from potatoes to tomatoes

Biobased polymers made from low to zero-value food products and organic wastes are being praised for their viability and sustainability in achieving circularity of packaging materials, according to Angelica Buan in this report.

There are various materials being explored in order to develop environmentally friendly alternatives to plastics. Using food and organic waste as feedstock for bioplastics is one of the most popular and sustainable methods. This allows the use of waste streams that would otherwise wind up in landfills or end up being incinerated.

According to the World Bank study, What a Waste 2.0, solid waste management is crucial for sustainable, healthy, and inclusive cities and communities, but it is frequently disregarded, especially in low-income countries. While recycling and composting recover more than one-third of waste in high-income nations, just 4% of this waste is recycled.

Thus, converting food and organic wastes into valuable resources can assist to reduce waste generation, laying the groundwork for developing a circular economy.

Generations of feedstocks

Food and organic waste are derived from renewable sources such as agricultural products, food processing wastes, and organic materials that have been discarded. As opposed to fossil-based plastics, bioplastics contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy by utilising easily available and renewable resources.

Furthermore, biomass-derived polymers have the ability to biodegrade under the right conditions. This means that when disposed of in suitable environments, such as industrial composting facilities or natural ecosystems containing microbes, they can degrade into harmless byproducts such as water, carbon dioxide, and organic matter.

That said, by utilising low to zero-value waste materials for bioplastic synthesis, waste management issues can be addressed too, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, saving resources, and supporting the ethical transition to more sustainable plastic alternatives.

There are four generations of feedstocks used for manufacturing biobased materials, according to Deloitte in its report, The Future of Materials

Converting food and organic wastes into valuable resources helps cut waste and lays the foundation for a circular economy

Corn, sugarcane, and soybeans are examples of first-generation feedstocks. These are frequently utilised in the production of biofuels and bioplastics. Switchgrass, algae, and agricultural waste are examples of secondgeneration feedstocks that are frequently employed in packaging applications.

Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, and fungi are examples of thirdgeneration feedstocks. that can be used to make oils for food, cosmetics, and biofuels.

Deloitte has identified four generations of biobased material feedstocks: from common crops like corn and sugarcane to the more advanced synthetic biology for specialised materials

Fourth-generation feedstocks include those based on synthetic biology that are used to create and engineer organisms that produce specified materials or chemicals.These can be used to make high-value compounds for fragrances, flavours, and pharmaceuticals.

Maize residue to renewable material

Bio-based products are produced by extracting natural feedstocks or inputs from plants or other organic sources, such as starch, cellulose, and proteins, and then processing them through various biological and chemical reactions. These materials are subsequently processed into fibres, films, and resins using techniques including extrusion, casting, and moulding, according to Deloitte.

US chemical firm Dow and clean energy producer New Energy Blue have chosen corn as a suitable source in their collaboration to develop renewable plastic polymers. The companies formed a long-term supply arrangement in North America where New Energy Blue will produce bio-based ethylene from renewable agricultural residues.

Dow expects to purchase this bio-based ethylene, which will be used in recyclable applications such as transportation, footwear, and packaging.

This collaboration is being billed as the first in North America to produce plastic raw materials from corn stover (stalks and leaves). This is also Dow's first North American deal to use agricultural waste for plastic manufacture.

6 SEPTEMBER 2023 Materials News

Under the terms of the agreement, Dow is supporting the design of New Energy Freedom, a new facility in Mason City, Iowa, that will process 275 kilotonnes/year of corn stover and produce commercial volumes of secondgeneration ethanol and clean lignin.

Almost half of the ethanol produced will be converted into bio-based ethylene feedstock for Dow products. This deal also provides Dow with similar commercial supply alternatives for the next four New Energy Blue projects, allowing the latter to scale its production while also assisting farmers by providing a steady market for agricultural residues.

The five projects are intended to displace about 1 million tonnes/year of GHG emissions and allow Dow to increase its usage of renewable, recyclable materials as well as contributing to the reduction of agricultural carbon emissions from rotting corn stover if not used.

Good potato innovation

Rising consumer demand for biodegradable and ecologically sound packaging materials, as well as a growing emphasis on sustainable development and reducing plastic waste, has fuelled the expansion of biobased plastics.

According to market research firm SkyQuest , the starch-based bioplastics market will be worth more than US$23.8 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 14.1% from 2023.

Starch-rich potato, like cassava, a prevalent ingredient in the production of a variety of bioplastic materials, is showing potential as a bioplastic feedstock.

The University of Alicante's Waste, Energy, Environment, and Nanotechnology (REMAN) research group has developed a method for producing a water-soluble plastic material based on potato starch, which will soon be available on the market via the UA technology-based company, Solublion, linked to the Alicante Science Park.

Starch-rich potatoes are being explored as a promising source for bioplastic production. The Remandeveloped plastic is known for its stability and minimal migration

Materials News
Dow and New Energy Blue are collaborating to turn corn stover into second-generation ethanol and clean lignin

According to Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ignacio Martin Gullón, the material is both compostable and biodegradable, and is appropriate for usage as a flexible film, preferably in bags and packaging.

The plastic developed by the REMAN group is said to be stable and has a low migration rate. Gullón stated that these solutions are intended for use as direct alternatives for conventional packaging materials and single-use plastics.

The research group's formulations require the starch to be gelatinised and plasticised in the presence of plasticisers, often water and another plasticiser with a higher boiling point.

Plasticised starch, surrounded by plasticiser molecules, has a significant tendency to retrograde, which means it partially returns its previous ordered structure, resulting in decrease in properties. However, with the technology developed by the group, this migration is substantially avoided, increasing the useful life of these materials without compromising their mechanical qualities, biodegradability, compostability, or water solubility.

New system to divert food wastes into valuable material

Household waste accounts for a sizable component of municipal solid waste. However, a project is currently putting these wastes to good use by employing them as raw material in the production of bioplastic.

Caixia "Ellen" Wan, an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and a bioprocess engineer at the University of Missouri , has been working with researchers at Virginia Tech , including Biological Systems Engineering Assistant Professor Zhiwu "Drew" Wang, as well as researchers from Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment and Iowa State University.

The researchers are developing a process to convert food wastes into biodegradable materials. Wan is in charge of biodegradable plastics biosynthesis, as well as process development and bioreaction optimisation for manufacturing bioplastics from food waste. Other team members are working on a large-scale system to massproduce new types of plastics for cups, bottles, films, and other consumer products using Wan's approach.

The team recently received a US$2.4 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to upscale the bioplastic production. The first-of-its kind project is diverting food scraps such as vegetable, bread and meat from landfills.

Different types of food waste, such as vegetables, bread, and meat, will be turned into polyester biopolymers for plastic materials employing microorganisms that can handle various substrates.

The technique includes transforming food waste, extracting and purifying goods, and applying bioplastics. However, they must first address the issue of biosynthesis of biodegradable plastic from food waste, according to Wan. This is because there is no single approach that can be used to all sorts of food waste.

She emphasises that food can contain proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, and that different conversion procedures are necessary for various types of waste. The three-year research sought to build a system capable of producing a material suitable for commercial purposes.

Tomato-based resin material vs BPA for tinned food Leftover fruits and vegetables are among the home garbage that is frequently landfilled. While the biodegradability of these materials is not a concern, the idea of using them as raw materials for packaging is gaining support, particularly in regions where these crops are abundant.

For example, Spain, a major producer and exporter of tomatoes, is the natural starting point for research into tomato as a biobased material.

A research team led by experts from the Instituto de Hortofruticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea " La Mayora " (CSIC-Universidad de Málaga) and the Instituto de Ciencia de los Materiales de Sevilla located in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park in Seville, with participation from the Italian Institute of Technology and the Polytechnic University of Marche , have converted tomatoes into a biodegradable “tomato pomace” lacquer that acts as an inner coating for food and beverage cans.

The resin, according to the researchers, repels water better and adheres to the metal more firmly than those containing bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to health risks. The tomato-derived resin is also anti-corrosive against salt and any liquid.

To make this resin, experts reused tomato seeds, skins, and small stalks to make pomace, and this pomace samples are dried and subjected to a hydrolysis process to remove excess water and keep the lipids (vegetable fat), which is then extracted and mixed with a minimal proportion of ethanol.

The sample is dispersed in a solution of approximately 80% water and 20% ethanol. The grease in water dispersion is then sprayed directly onto the metal surface to protect it. This allows it to penetrate the metal, adhere to the can shape, and withstand further container cuts.

Heat was used by the experts to bind the molecules in the mixture and produce the resin. The lacquer was heated to 200 degrees for a brief length of time, between 10 and 60 minutes, to obtain the resin.

After testing it on simulated food, as required by European Union laws for polymers in contact with food, the team will examine its performance on cans and packages containing real food, as well as its industrial applicability.

The study, titled Bio-based Lacquers from Industrially Processed Tomato Pomace for Sustainable Metal Food Packaging , was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

It was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation , the Regional Government of Andalusia's Department of University , Research , and Innovation , and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Materials News 8 SEPTEMBER 2023

Breaking the cycle of Asia’s mismanaged wastes

Collaborative efforts from the public-private sectors and various organisations, such as the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, offer solutions to successfully manage waste in countries with limited waste management resources. PRA ( conducted an interview with Nicholas Kolesch, Vice President of Projects, to provide insight into the state of plastic waste in Asia.

Plastic pollution presents a global challenge and current plastic waste management practices are causing severe harm to marine life, nature, and the surroundings, especially in Southeast Asia where resource limitations complicate waste handling.

The Circulate Initiative 's research highlights the potential for substantial positive change. By improving plastic waste management, significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be achieved. Focusing on India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam, the study reveals that recycling mismanaged plastic waste could have an impact equivalent to shutting down 61 coal-fired power plants.

Rectifying the disposal of just 1-tonne of plastic waste instead of burning it could prevent the release of 3 tonnes of harmful gases. Further, prioritising recycling over incineration could prevent 20 million tonnes of pollution by 2030 and help achieve a 10% reduction in global plastic pollution through region-specific recycling goals.

Holistic strategies for managing Asia’s wastes

Addressing plastic pollution presents a multifaceted challenge that requires collaboration throughout the entire plastic value chain and at every stage of the plastic life cycle. Without active involvement and commitment from governments, social organisations, industry stakeholders, the private sector, and consumers, achieving a comprehensive global solution will remain elusive.

Established in 2019, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste ( Alliance ), a global non-profit organisation, is on a mission to eliminate plastic waste from the environment. It comprises around 50 major global companies, including BASF , Berry Global , Braskem , Chevron Phillips , Clariant , Covestro , CP Group , Dow , DSM , ExxonMobil , Formosa Plastics Corporation USA , Henkel , LyondellBasell , Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings , Mitsui Chemicals ,

Nova Chemicals , OxyChem , PolyOne , Procter & Gamble , Reliance Industries , SABIC , Sasol , Shell , Suez , SCG Chemicals , Sumitomo Chemical , Total , Veolia , and Versalis ( Eni ).

In an email interview conducted by PRA (www. plasticsandrubberasia. com), Nicholas Kolesch, Vice President of Projects, provides insight into the state of plastic waste in Asia, the impact of waste management efforts, and the concerted actions being taken by industry players. At the core of these actions is the role played by the Alliance in closing the gaps in circularity and driving meaningful change.

PRA: Achieving the UN's goal to reduce plastic pollution by 80% by 2040 might not be realistically attainable, as indicated by research. Do you believe that this target is achievable?

Kolesch: Plastic waste is a complex challenge and requires investments on multiple fronts. Reducing the annual flow of plastic waste into the ocean by 80% will require collective action through public-private-people partnerships and substantial capital investment, of which a significant portion can come from the private sector. The Alliance is focused on convening players across the plastics value chain including brands, waste managers, recyclers and enablers, and producers to do this.

Nicholas Kolesch, VP of Projects at the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, discusses plastic waste in Asia, waste management impact, and industry's collective actions

Globally, we will need significant amounts of money to be directed towards solving this problem, coupled with the political will necessary for these changes to occur so that we can achieve a real impact.

The Alliance is responsible for providing a healthy amount of funding to build solution models and help demonstrate what works. However, we are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to addressing this issue.

In our efforts to unite the plastic value chain and the broader investor community to reverse plastic pollution, the Alliance partnered with Lombard Odier to catalyse private sector investments in circular plastic and support more research and innovation in circularity. The fund will target investments in the plastics value chain, particularly in new materials and improvements in collection and recycling.

By participating in the Alliance and collaborating across the plastic value chain, our members also demonstrate their commitment to eradicating plastic waste from the environment through technology and infrastructure development investments across the lifespan of plastic.

Asia, a bastion for climate-positive solutions

Six Southeast Asian countries produce over 31 million tonnes/year of plastic waste, which extends across borders via rivers and coastlines, worsened by the global plastic trade. As plastic demand grows, so does waste generation, especially in countries with inadequate waste management practices. Can a solution be found for this complex challenge?

PRA: Given the increasing demand for plastics, especially in Asia, and with no signs of this demand slowing down – how crucial is it for economies to prioritise reducing plastic waste and improving waste management?

Kolesch: Global plastic demand is expected to nearly triple by 2050. We know that plastic is an essential part of not just the economy, but day-to-day life for people all over the world. The focus needs to be on creating a suite of solutions, including upstream ones, which can help to meet the challenge at all stages from design and recycling, to introducing more circular models for plastic such as refill and reuse.

PRA: Regarding your programmes related to Asia, are there any obstacles to executing these initiatives or projects in the region?

Kolesch: When working with smaller organisations, particularly social enterprises, they often lack administrative infrastructure and the ability to demonstrate a scalable proof of concept. Brazil's Recicleiros (which implements selective collection and recycling in municipalities) illustrates this by establishing mechanisms to organise cooperatives, offering a framework for the informal sector. This creates confidence for the municipality as they observe successful implementations in other places, enabling replication through laws, fostering effective partnerships and trust for these organisations in their operating cities.

PRA: Considering the significant efforts by the Alliance in implementing circular projects in Asia, where does the Alliance currently stand in its mission to eliminate plastic waste in Asia?

Kolesch: We are focused on projects that advance a circular plastic economy. Our goal is to demonstrate effective strategies and subsequently expand and replicate proven solutions. This vision is materialising as our projects mature.

To date, our portfolio comprises over 50 projects in different sizes and implementation stages. We have diverted over 38,000 tonnes of plastic waste from the environment and recycled more than 39,000 tonnes.

Su S tainability
Brazil's Recicleiros collaborates with local governments and cooperatives to implement selective collection and recycling, targeting recyclables like plastic, metal, paper, and glass in municipalities

In Southeast Asia, we primarily work in highleakage countries, acknowledging the global nature of the plastic issue and the need for diverse local solutions within each region and country.

Our investment addresses both waste diversion and recycling incentives, aiming to tackle the extensive challenge. While the Alliance holds a transformative role, we understand collaboration is key and work with like-minded partners to develop a range of solutions for the plastic waste challenge.

Indonesia’s blueprint for sustainable waste management

At the forefront of the Alliance’s efforts is its flagship project, the Bersih Indonesia: Eliminasi Sampah Plastik programme, which has brought together both public and private sectors in a partnership aimed at developing a waste management system to cater to the needs of 2.6 million people in Malang, east Java.

Launched in 2022, the programme aims to assist the country in achieving its ambitious targets: a 70% reduction in marine plastic waste leakage by 2025 and the eventual eradication of plastic waste pollution by 2040. It is considered one of the world’s largest public-private partnerships for waste management and will significantly enhance the collection, sorting, and recycling of plastic waste for 6.5 million residents across Indonesia.

PRA: The Alliance mentioned that if the Bersih Indonesia project becomes successful, it "might serve as a model for financially sustainable waste management projects in other underprivileged communities." Could you elaborate on this?

Kolesch: For Bersih Indonesia, success means the widespread implementation and recognition of the programme as a model for establishing self-sustaining waste management systems at the regency level within 5-10 years.

This involves achieving an approximate 80% waste collection rate and generating continuous revenue through the sale of recyclables. Such achievements would elevate waste management from the village level to the regency level across Indonesia and encourage adoption in other regencies, ultimately creating more efficient waste management on a larger scale, which is currently lacking in the country.

PRA: What is the nature of your collaboration with Indonesian start-up Plustik, and in what capacity?

Kolesch: Plustik has built a sorting facility and employed individuals from local communities to extract hard-to-recycle plastic waste of low value, repurposing it into pavement blocks used for city parks.

Plustik participated in the Java Low-Value Plastics Accelerator, aimed at identifying and expanding outlets for low-value plastic waste collected through the Alliance's Eliminasi Sampah Plastik programme. Today, Plustik reduces landfillbound mixed plastic waste by approximately 1,800 tonnes/year.

Disparities in tackling climate change; innovation as a key solution

Regardless of how rich or poor a country is, it is urged to face the challenges of climate change. A recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC) has sounded the alarm about the serious consequences if rising global temperatures are not kept in check.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognises that certain nations struggle to manage climate change initiatives. It suggests that the public costs for adaptation will amount to roughly 0.25% of the global GDP annually. However, this poses a substantial challenge for low-income nations. The IMF predicts that approximately 50 low-income nations will need to allocate over 1% of their GDP each year for the next decade to adapt. For vulnerable island nations contending with cyclones and rising sea levels, this figure could even reach 2% of GDP. Regrettably, the most at-risk countries lack the resources for adaptation.

11 SEPTEMBER 2023 Su S tainability
The Bersih Indonesia project is the Alliance's flagship project in Indonesia, aimed at developing a waste management system to cater to the needs of 2.6 million people in Malang, East Java

The inequality in addressing climate change is evident. Thus, we asked the Alliance's viewpoint on this matter.

PRA: Can you provide examples of "solutions" where the Alliance has invested in, and that have either shown success or have the potential for success in "ending plastic waste" or "accelerating the circular plastics economy"?

Kolesch: Kenya’s Taka Taka Solutions represents a holistic solution because they collect plastic waste through their own waste management services, which is the informal sector around Nairobi, and the Dandora landfill. They are then processing the waste themselves, from washing, flaking and then pelletising into products for downstream customers. They are creating a comprehensive solution which is active across the plastic value chain.

Brazilian social enterprise Recicleiros collects and aggregates recyclables. It collaborates with local governments in small to mid-sized cities, partnering with cooperatives to collect various recyclables such as plastic, metal, paper, and glass.

Alliance’s funding empowers these people-centered enterprises operated by members, to earn from waste management. This initiative offers a secure work environment and a successful waste management system, now expanded to 20 cities. Additionally, they have a network of buyers interested in purchasing bales of recyclables.

PRA: How do you compare the progress in climate change/crisis efforts already made by the Global South and the Global North, given existing disparities in waste management infrastructure, and policy focus?

Kolesch: Collection of waste in the Global North is not the issue – proper collection is. All stakeholders must innovate to maximise the diversion of recyclable materials from landfills and incineration, channeling them into proper systems for better reduction and reuse of materials.

In the context of the Global South, the challenge involves setting up basic collection infrastructure as the initial step in the waste management process. Often, this involves well-operated landfills or even incineration systems to curb the existing leakage of waste into the environment. Additionally, once the waste is collected, the existing systems often lack the readiness to effectively sort and extract recyclables.

In these regions, our focus is on collaborating with communities to develop more viable solutions. These solutions aim to prevent waste leakage into the environment while also introducing more effective recycling methods.

Furthermore, infrastructure development in the Global South and investment in innovations in the Global North share the objective of preventing plastic waste from entering the environment by diverting it and promoting downstream processing. These collective efforts drive a circular plastic economy, creating stable job opportunities, enhancing safety, and protecting the environment across regions.

Su S tainability
Proper collection and setting up of basic collection infrastructure are important steps in the waste management process, according to Kolesch Taka Taka Solutions converts a variety of single-use plastics into valuable new raw materials for Kenyan manufacturing industries

Building green with recycled resources

The construction sector's focus on sustainability has spurred innovative efforts, particularly utilising recycled resources, to minimise the environmental impact, says Angelica Buan in this report.

More recycled content, less carbon footprint

The building and construction sectors are responsible for about 38% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 35% of total energy consumption. This trend is expected to worsen in Asia due to population growth and rising income, leading to increased demand for construction. To address this, environmentally friendly green buildings are seen as a vital solution to reducing GHG emissions. They achieve this by minimising resource use from design to demolition, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In a 2022 ADB working paper, it was emphasised that the Asia-Pacific region is accountable for over half of global GHG emissions. Decarbonising the building sector is crucial not only for meeting national emissions targets and net-zero goals but also for improving urban living conditions.

Across the region's major cities, buildings contribute significantly to energy consumption, with residential, non-residential, and construction material manufacturing accounting for 35% collectively. Notably, concrete and steel are the biggest contributors to GHG emissions among construction materials, responsible for two-thirds of the impact, followed by bricks (18%) and aluminium (8%), as reported in the 2021 Global Status Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Asia, particularly China, currently holds the title of the largest contributor to GHG emissions from construction materials. However, projections suggest that India will surpass China by 2053 in this regard.

As industries prioritise carbon footprint reduction, incorporating more recycled content into products emerges as a crucial solution.

Recycling has moved beyond domestic waste bins to take centre stage on building sites, transforming waste materials into valuable resources such as recycled concrete aggregate.

Unlike conventional concrete production, which depletes resources and emits carbon, utilising recycled materials prevents waste build-up in landfills and reduces the energy and emissions tied to extraction and processing. Moreover, recycled concrete often boasts enhanced durability and can even surpass traditional concrete in specific applications.

Carbon neutral concrete/plastic blocks

The extensive use of concrete in construction has been marred by its substantial carbon emissions, primarily originating from cement manufacturing. Nonetheless, recent progress in materials science has introduced a fresh era of carbon-neutral concrete, aimed at reducing its ecological footprint.

ByFusion Global is making a noteworthy stride in this direction. The California-headquartered start-up has a groundbreaking product, Byblock, made from repurposed plastic waste, including types that are conventionally considered non-recyclable.

Building & ConstruCtion
The building and construction sector sees environmentally friendly green buildings that utilise materials with recycled content as vital solutions for reducing GHG emissions ByFusion Global's Byblock is made from repurposed plastic waste, including types that are conventionally considered non-recyclable

Building & Constru C tion

ByFusion employs its patent-pending Micro Diversion Platform (MDP) to consistently convert diverse plastic waste types into Byblock, without the need for secondary additives or fillers. This building material serves various purposes, from retaining walls, sound barriers, and furniture to sheds, fencing, and landscaping.

Byblock's density can be tailored to specific requirements, offering flexibility, plus the material does not crack or crumble, thus distinguishing it from concrete blocks. Unlike traditional options, it does not need adhesives, and its production emits 83% fewer CO2 emissions than concrete blocks, says the firm.

Honext, a Barcelona-based company, on the other hand, is doing away with resins to produce building boards. Using enzymes and cellulose removed from waste streams generated during the production of paper, it has produced a sustainable construction board material.

This cellulose board offers several benefits, including reduced weight, increased flexibility and sound absorption, compared to alternatives like MDF or drywall.

Beyond the material's sustainability, Honext strives for a carbon-neutral production process. The cellulose material is created using gas and electricity generated from waste digestion, and water is reused in a closed circuit. At the material's end of life, it's reintegrated into production for a new set of boards, while any applied coatings are removed in the process, adds Honext.

Transforming diaper waste into housing materials in Indonesia

In the pursuit of environmentally-friendly construction materials, innovation takes a key role as industries creatively repurpose once-discarded materials.

Researchers at Japan's University of Kitakyushu have achieved a breakthrough by using shredded disposable diapers to create concrete. This method can replace up to 40% of the typical sand used in concrete without sacrificing strength, as demonstrated in a small house built in Indonesia, highlighting its potential for affordable housing.

Although single-use diapers contain elements like wood pulp and polymers that enhance concrete's properties, the main obstacle lies in waste separation.

Initial funding from Indonesian waste-management company Awina Sinergi International kick-started the project, with the research team locally sourcing, washing, drying, and shredding used diapers before combining the resulting material with cement, sand, gravel, and water. Tests were conducted to replace up to 40% of sand with diaper material. After a curing period, pressure tests determined the maximum proportion of diaper material suitable for building components.

While 27% replacement worked for a single-storey prototype house, taller structures would require a drop to 10%. Despite its promise, inadequate diaper waste separation infrastructure poses the primary challenge in transitioning this innovation to real-world application.

This cellulose material is sourced from cardboard and paper waste generated by paper mills, having undergone multiple reuse cycles. The remaining short cellulose fibres, unsuitable for further papermaking, are typically discarded as landfill or incinerated, contributing to approximately 7 million tonnes/year of global waste.

Honext's innovation rescues this otherwise wasted material by transforming it into construction boards for interior partitions and cladding. By introducing specific enzymes during production, they strengthen the bonds between the short cellulose fibres without the need for non-recyclable resins. Non-toxic additives enhance the board's UV resistance. The resulting mixture is shaped into wet boards, which are then dried emission-free through a controlled process.

Circular construction with PU resins

Recycling goes beyond just giving materials a second chance. It is about establishing a circular economy that completes the lifecycle loop for resources. Many sustainable construction materials can be recycled themselves, creating a cycle that reduces waste and preserves resources. This method reduces the need for energy-intensive extraction of raw materials, thus minimising the environmental impact.

European chemical producer BASF promotes sustainable insulation through its PU rigid foam and spray foam systems, Elastopor, Elastopir, and Elastospray. These systems incorporate recycled plastics. According to BASF, intelligent insulation is a key aspect of modern construction. Notably, PU sandwich panels are top-tier products in the market. Now, Elastopor, Elastopir, and

Honext utilises enzymes and cellulose extracted from waste streams generated during paper production to create a sustainable construction board material

Elastospray with recycled PET (rPET) content, are available on the market. The recycled materials used come from established recycling processes for PET waste streams.

Elastopor and Elastopir are particularly suitable for producing facade and roof elements for industrial buildings, combining the mechanical and physical attributes with thermal insulation.

The latest Elastopor and Elastopir systems integrate a significant amount of recyclate in the polyol component of the PU rigid foam. Despite this inclusion of recyclates, these new materials maintain the same properties as conventional systems, adds BASF.

The mechanical features, surface quality, and fire behaviour remain identical, while processing parameters remain unchanged. Moreover, Elastopor and Elastopir systems with recycled content require no adjustments to the process settings and can be used on the same machinery as conventional systems.

Meanwhile, Elastospray, a new generation of spray foams containing rPET, provides insulation value, air and water-tightness, and strong energy efficiency, leading to long-term cost savings, says BASF. Originally designed for the Italian market, the Elastospray LWP system, which is currently available in Europe, matches the thermal properties and density of conventional spray foams.

Similarly, PU composite fibres are revolutionising the construction sector, yielding lighter, more durable, and energy-efficient structures, thereby reducing emissions. This approach also promotes recycling and the utilisation of renewable resources, contributing to sustainability.

German polymer materials manufacturer Covestro is championing sustainable materials in construction.

The company offers a variety of groundbreaking fibre composites, including the Desmocomp PU resin matrix system. Tailored for outdoor applications, this system boasts resistance to UV radiation and weathering. Key features include flame resistance, simple processing via a one-component PU system, and an extended pot life.

The EUR18.5-million Texoversum building at Reutlingen University, which serves as a teaching and innovation hub for the textile sector, is an obvious representation of Desmocomp's potential.

The building's distinctive facade, spanning around 2,000 sq m, showcases an inventive construction technique: fibres intricately woven with a special resin. Inspired by a spider-web design, this method yields structures that are lightweight yet sturdy, enhancing resource efficiency and curbing material consumption.

Architect Prof Moritz Dörstelmann, a co-inventor of this technology and founder of FibR, the company responsible for the Texoversum's facade, underscores its eco-friendly advantages. Tailored fibres that match each structure's strength requirements result in significantly reduced CO2 emissions.

This innovation holds promise for roofing, supports, and interior components and Covestro says its Desmocomp guarantees the strength and durability of the composite. The resin establishes a robust matrix that enhances the fibre's resilience against various environmental factors, while the woven facade serves multiple purposes, including aesthetics, balcony reinforcement, railing, and sunshade for the glass front.

Sustainable future: one recycled material at a time

While the use of recycled construction materials holds promise, challenges remain, including the availability of suitable recycled materials and quality control measures. This is particularly true in regions with limited recycling infrastructure.

Incorporating recycled resources into construction materials aligns with the broader vision of sustainable development. It reduces waste, as well as conserves energy and natural resources. Importantly, it sends a clear message: increased adoption of sustainable construction materials derived from recycled sources are more than a passing trend: they mark a profound shift in our approach to building.

These materials embody resourcefulness, efficiency, and environmental responsibility, helping us create not only structures but also the groundwork for a more sustainable future.

15 SEPTEMBER 2023 Building & Constru C tion
BASF promotes sustainability in insulation through its PU rigid foam and spray foam systems, which incorporate recycled plastics Covestro provides a range of innovative fibre composites, among them the Desmocomp PU resin matrix system designed for outdoor applications

ThermoplasTic elasTomers (Tpes)

TPEs headed towards sustainability

With the current emphasis on sustainability, manufacturers of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) are innovating TPEs with recycled materials content.

Teknor Apex launches TPVs with up to 40% recycled content US compounder Teknor Apex has introduced its Sarlink thermoplastic vulcanisates (TPVs) with up to 40% recycled material content. The TPVs, targeted at automotive applications requiring elasticity and long-term performance, are promoted as a recyclable, light-weight alternative to EPDM rubber.

The latest series, Sarlink RX 3100B, was developed to help automotive brands achieve sustainability targets, by incorporating up to 40% post-industrial recyclate, depending on the hardness. These multi-purpose TPVs are suitable for injection moulding, extrusion, overmoulding and co-extrusion with PP or other TPEs.

It says it also treats recycled feedstocks like prime raw materials, and they are subject to the same quality assurance testing and must meet relevant specifications for use.

Scott Nakon, Global Automotive Market Manager, adds, “Our ongoing projects include new sustainable raw materials streams such as recycled and bio-based content, as well as carbon negative additives. Also, we plan to introduce new thermoplastic elastomers with up to 65% post-consumer recycled content later this year, as well as expand the Recyclon portfolio of recycled polyamide solutions.”

KRAIBURG TPE’s new TPE series targeted at Asia Pacific market

Elsewhere, German TPE manufacturer KRAIBURG TPE says its Thermolast R-RC/FC/PCR/AP series, with 9-35% PCR content (hardness-dependent), is designed for the Asia Pacific market. It is targeted at interdental brush and other dental tooling applications.

Using cutting-edge materials such as TPEs from the bristles to the handle ensures that the design and functionality required for interdental brushes are met, it adds.

Teknor Apex’s Sarlink RX 3100B series TPV with 40% recycled content is a multi-purpose TPV containing PIR content

For these high-durometer grades, applications include the backbone or carrier for extruded seals, like in glass run channels, or boots, bellows, and other under-the-hood components.

The two grades, an 84 Shore A and 94 Shore A, are based on the existing Sarlink 3100 Series technology, but contain 25% and 40% recycled content, respectively.

The firm says the materials process and perform similarly to their virgin counterparts yet offer sustainability benefits, which is ideal for OEMs looking to reach aggressive targets around the use of sustainable material content in vehicles.

Sarlink RX 3100B TPVs are pre-coloured black and can still be recycled in process or at the end of the product’s life cycle.

The use of PIR content versus Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) content derived from household waste, provides for a more controlled and consistent raw material stream that can be used in extrusion-grade TPVs without issue, adds Teknor Apex.

The TPE series is offered in a wide hardness range of 30-90 Shore A, and allows for processing via multi-component injection moulding, plus good adhesion to PP, among other benefits.

The series offers features and properties to achieve design and functionality outcomes for interdental brushes, particularly grip, handle, and tip cover applications.

Plus, it allows for the customisation of a wide range of surfaces, from soft-touch and smooth or silky feel to high surface friction, depending on the design requirement.

The Thermolast R-RC/FC/PCR/AP series from KRAIBURG TPE is targeted at interdental brush applications

The series' exceptional anti-slip feature makes it ideal for applications requiring an ergonomic grip and easy manoeuvring.

The compound series also conforms with REACH SHVC and RoHS, ensuring that the material is free of restricted chemical or hazardous substances, as required by European regulations. The series also meets food contact regulatory criteria including (FDA) CFR21.

Available in both natural and translucent colours, the series also offers precolouration options, for customisation in a variety of hues for a vibrant and appealing look of the products.

Besides interdental brush applications, KRAIBURG TPE’s recent sustainability innovations include a series of material solutions specially developed for automotive, consumer, consumer electronics, wearables and industry applications.

Comprising up to 48% PCR and 50% PIR content, the material complies with multiple global standards such as FDA raw material compliance, RoHS and REACH SVHC requirements.

KRAIBURG TPE says it also provides customers with product carbon footprint values.

Hexpol/Polykemi tie-up for sustainable consumer product project

Swedish compounders Hexpol TPE and Polykemi have collaborated on a 2K sustainable development project that reduced the product carbon footprint for consumer products.

Making a material selection can be a complicated task when designing consumer products. There are many properties to balance, and the choice is even more complex when including eco-design principles. Selecting two materials for a 2K part is not doubling the difficulty; it is squared. To help with this decision, Hexpol TPE and Polykemi teamed up to enable combinations based on properties and sustainability targets.

Thermoplas T ic e las T omers (T pe s)

Hexpol TPE and Polykemi have done work in the field of sustainability, allowing them to provide cradle-to-gate Product Carbon Footprints (PCF) and calculate the Global Warming Potential (GWP) per kg of material.

The PCF data shows that switching from a combination using fossil-based ABS from Polykemi, overmoulded with a fossil-based TPE from Hexpol TPE, to a recycled PP and TPE with bio-circular attributed content, can give a 77% reduction in CO2e. This combination can also bring advantages when considering end-of-life and recycling compatibility.

Combinations using mechanically recycled ABS with bio-circular attributed TPE were also tested, which gave a 57% reduction in CO2e compared to the fully fossil-based equivalents. The TPE is bio-circular attributed via the mass balance approach using 2nd generation feedstocks.

Avient launches bioderived healthcare solution

Avient Corporation has announced the availability of its newest bio-derived healthcare solution, Versaflex HC Bio TPE. Developed as a more sustainable alternative for biopharmaceutical tubing, the initial Versaflex HC Bio BT218 grade is formulated with nearly 40% firstgeneration biomass content, resulting in a lower carbon footprint than traditional alternatives.

The 71 Shore A formulation provides critical application performance such as weldability, kink resistance, and tensile strength comparable to leading medical tubing materials, including silicone and standard TPEs, says the US firm.

In contrast, the bio-derived grade offers greenhouse gas emissions at 2.35 kg CO2e / kg product, a nearly 25% lower cradle-to-gate product carbon footprint (PCF) than Avient’s standard Versaflex HC BT218 grade.

Avient’s PCF calculation method follows the ISO 14067:2018 standard and is certified by TÜV Rheinland, it adds.

Certified for USP Class VI and ISO 10993, the new Versaflex HC BIO BT218 grade is manufactured in the US with global commercial availability.

Avient’s newest bioderived healthcare TPE solution is directed at biopharmaceutical tubing Henrik Palokangas, sustainability specialist at Polykemi and Klas Dannäs, sustainability director at Hexpol TPE, speak about the 77% reduction in CO2e when switching from fossil-based materials to a recycled PP and TPE with bio-circular attributed content

Thailand’s prescription for medical innovation and recycling

As Thailand stands at the crossroads of economic advancement with promising opportunities, its medical devices and recycling sectors are expected to take it to the lead in Asia, according to Angelica Buan in this report.

Asia’s medical hub

Thailand has emerged as a prominent medical hub in Asia due to its robust healthcare infrastructure and a global reputation for highly skilled medical professionals. The country boasts over 1,000 public and 300 private hospitals and has successfully implemented a universal healthcare system since 2002. This policy's success is evident as over 99% of the Thai population now enjoys coverage under public healthcare, as reported by the Board of Industries ( BOI ).

The medical industry's growth in Thailand is driven by its rapidly ageing population, which is projected to surpass that of Europe and the US by 2045, and the widespread availability of healthcare services.

Thailand's medical facilities and a sufficient number of skilled healthcare specialists have fuelled medical tourism. This trend is anticipated to bring a revenue of approximately 150 billion Baht to the country by 2037, a significant increase from the 23.5 billion Baht generated in 2019, according to a report by Kasikorn Bank

The influx of international patients seeking medical treatment has not only prompted technological advancements but has also led to an increase in clinical research studies, as noted by the BOI. This growing demand also opens doors for new companies interested in entering the Thai medical market.

The thriving medical industry in Thailand also supports a sizable market for medical devices. The country's medical devices sector ranks as the 8th largest in the Asia-Pacific region.

With over 500 local medical device manufacturers, there is ample potential for investment in this sector. While many devices are produced locally, there is still a need for imports, providing opportunities for both local and foreign investors. The pharmaceutical sector is another area experiencing growth in healthcare expenditures, positioning Thailand's pharmaceutical market as one of the strongest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Thailand's growing prominence as an Asian medical hub is accompanied by a thriving medical devices market, positioning the country's sector as the 8th largest in the Asia-Pacific region

Medical devices, a lucrative market for plastics

Kungsri , Thailand’s fifth largest bank, forecast in its plastics industry outlook for 2021-2023, a 2-3% yearly increase in both domestic sales and export volume of plastic products. Key downstream sectors like medical devices, packaging, electronics, construction, and auto parts are set to support this growth, constituting about 80% of domestic plastic consumption.

The local market, according to Kungsri, consumes 80% of Thailand's plastics converters' output. This serves end-consumers directly through products like kitchenware, bags, and straws, as well as supplies to major sectors like medical devices and others.

The remaining 20% of plastic production, largely low-value commodities, is exported. Medical supplies, shoes, and safety equipment were the top products in 2019, accounting for 18.6% of the market's total value, as reported by Kungsri.

Regarding medical supplies, a 3% growth in 2020 is expected to lead to a 7.5% annual rise in domestic market value over the next three years, alongside a 4.2% yearly increase in export value.

Country FoCus

The BOI highlights Thailand's flourishing medical devices sector, with a nearly US$20 billion trade value, among the strongest in ASEAN countries. Abundant raw materials, especially rubber and plastic for singleuse items, a skilled labour pool for semi-tech and hightech device production, and government support are driving this sector's growth, projected at 6.5% annually in 2022-2023.

Smart remedy for healthcare challenges

Hong Kong-headquartered consultancy YCP

Solidance 's April 2021 white paper titled The Future of Smart Hospitals in Thailand highlights how technology adoption and the development of smart hospitals with digitalised systems can effectively address challenges stemming from an ageing society, rising healthcare costs, and evolving medical needs in Thailand.

A report highlighted that implementation of digitalised systems and smart hospitals can efficiently tackle challenges arising from Thailand's ageing population, increasing healthcare expenses, and changing medical demands

Smart hospitals in Thailand serve critical medical objectives: enhancing operational efficiency, improving patient outcomes, reducing patient volume, enhancing diagnostic accuracy, boosting revenues, and more. Both public and private hospitals are striving to enhance efficiency and cost management while maintaining high standards of care. As a result, ongoing digital initiatives are being pursued across the country's healthcare institutions.

The Ministry of Public Health initiated the eHealth strategy from 2017-2026, leveraging information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance health services, management, and communication.

Digitalising hospitals holds immense potential. For instance, these systems can optimize the healthcare professional-to-patient ratio to ensure adequate care. With only 0.5 physicians per 1,000 people and Thailand transitioning to an ageing society with a rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), patient volume is increasing. Smart systems can not only manage operational costs but also expand services to underserved areas. Smart hospitals focus on objectives like seamless patient flow, clinical excellence, mobile asset management, patient experience, remote monitoring, and data management.

Various platforms are already deployed in public hospitals, including smart queue kiosks, mobile apps, assistive robots, self-payment kiosks, chatbots, remote care systems, telemedicine, blockchain data management, and more. While Thailand is on track for full implementation of smart systems in healthcare facilities, the pace of adoption varies between public and private hospitals, necessitating diverse approaches for technology vendors to cater to different care providers' needs, YCP stated.

Going circular with recycling

Plastics hold an indispensable role that extends beyond Thailand's medical devices sector. The country boasts the largest petrochemical sector in Southeast Asia and the 16th largest globally.

In 2018, this sector, including plastic resins, generated 11.8 million tonnes of products. The plastics industry's significance is reflected in its contribution of nearly US$37 billion to Thailand's economy in the same year, constituting 6.71% of the country's GDP, according to a World Bank study

However, the widespread production of plastics, both in Thailand and globally, has led to a growing issue of mismanaged waste, resulting in detrimental economic and environmental consequences.

A 2021 study by Lourens J. J. Meijer et al reveals that Asia, particularly, contributes to over 80% of plastic leakage into marine environments, with Thailand ranking sixth among the top ten contributing countries from the region.

Packaging remains a dominant waste; Pepsi launches rPET


Thailand grapples with an annual consumption and generation of approximately 2.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste. This waste stream is dominated by plastic bags and bottles, accounting for 60% of the total plastic packaging waste.

Country Fo C us
Pepsi claims to tbe first beverage supplier with 100% rPET bottles in Thailand

Country Fo C us

While plastic bags outweigh plastic bottles in mass, recycling of bags remains low due to their lightweight nature and frequent contamination, as revealed in a 2020 report by the World Wildlife Fund ( WWF ) and Metabolic. The report also underscores that improved household waste separation can notably enhance bag recycling.

Furthermore, the report highlights that bags primarily contribute to packaging waste found in disposal sites and the environment. In contrast, a substantial 70% of plastic bottles are collected for recycling due to their higher value in the recycling market.

In taking the lead, recently, beverage maker PepsiCo has become the first player in Thailand’s soft drinks market to use 100% rPET bottles. Produced by Suntory PepsiCo Beverage ( Thailand ) Company Limited with rPET material from recycled resin maker Envicco Limited , the 100% rPET bottles have been available in the market since April 2023 for the Pepsi and tea brands.

In Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health has authorised the use of rPET for food and beverage packaging under the safety standards stipulated by the US FDA.

Meanwhile, Thailand-based chemical firm Indorama Ventures , which is the world's largest producer of PET, is expected to build another factory to recycle PET products with a capacity of 25,000 tonnes/year. Indorama currently runs a 36,000-tonne/year PET recycling plant in Nakhon Pathom, which it opened in 2011.

Thus, the manufacturing sector is taking bolder steps to reduce waste, including coastal cleanups and plastic bag bans, while also exploring biodegradable alternatives to combat plastic pollution.

However, they're pondering the next steps, and the WWF report provides insights, highlighting the importance of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

The EPR approach benefits local budgets, the environment, and recycling awareness. It aligns with Thailand's recycling goal and helps curb pollution and emissions.

Similarly, recycling initiatives backed by the government are progressing. The Plastic Waste Management Roadmap 2018-2030, developed by agencies like Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ( MONRE ), Department of Environmental Quality Promotion ( DEQP ), Pollution Control Department ( PCD ), and Public Prive Partnership for Sustainable Plastic and Waste Management ( PPP Plastic ), sets ambitious goals.

Total Corbion runs a bioplastics plant in Rayong, Thailand, producing a variety of Luminy PLA resins using locally sourced sugarcane for applications including packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing, and automotive sectors

Concerted efforts to reach sustainable targets

Elsewhere, Total Corbion PLA , a 50/50 joint venture between Total and Corbion, operates a 75,000-tonne/year PLA (polylactic acid) bioplastics plant in Rayong, Thailand. The facility produces a broad range of Luminy PLA resins from renewable, non-GMO sugarcane sourced locally in Thailand for the packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing and automotive sectors.

Indorama’s recycling site in Nakhon Pathom. It recently indicated looking at opening a second recycling centre in Thailand The Total Corbion PLA joint venture operates what is said to be the largest PLA bioplastics plant in Thailand

It aims to eliminate thin plastic bags, foam food containers, and certain plastic straws/cups by 2022. A circular economy-focused plastic recycling system was planned for 2022, with the aim of total recycling for specific plastic waste categories by 2027.

These successful efforts and ongoing government and private sector collaboration showcase Thailand's increasing awareness of the plastic waste crisis.

Meanwhile, Brazilian biopolymer producer Braskem and Thai petchem firm SCG Chemicals have signed a joint venture agreement to create Braskem Siam Company Limited . This joint venture aims to produce bio-ethylene from bio-ethanol dehydration and to commercialise biobased PE technology in Thailand, which results from the partnership agreement between Lummus Technology and Braskem to develop and license this technology.

The biobased PE is a plastic made from a sustainably sourced renewable raw material (ethanol from sugar cane) instead of traditional fossil feedstock (e.g., naphtha from oil). It is used in a variety of products, from packaging for food and beverage to personal and home care products, toys, houseware, and plastic bags, to name a few. It can also be mechanically or chemically recycled just as regular polyethylene.

B raskem will contribute technology through its partnership with Lummus Technology, operational experience in the ethanol dehydration process while SCG Chemicals will provide expertise in PE grades for different applications, operational experience in PE manufacturing and market reach in Southeast Asia.

Country Fo C us
Braskem and SCG have tied up for a bio-ethylene plant in Thailand, that will enable the production of biobased PE, the first of its kind outside of Brazil


ExxonMobil’s HDPE for recyclable MDO flexible films

US firm ExxonMobil has developed a high density polyethylene (HDPE) grade, ExxonMobil HD7165L, for machine direction oriented (MDO) PE film applications. Designed for recyclability, HD7165L can help converters create mono-material laminates to replace multi-material laminate structures which can be difficult to mechanically recycle.

Features like optical and mechanical properties, make the grade well suited to help enable mono-material laminated packaging that can be used to package products like nuts, crackers, condiments, granola bars, and potato chips.

“The development of new HD7165L has been driven by market demand from brand owners and processors looking to develop all-PE packaging which, in turn, has created a need for print webs made of blown MDO-PE films,” said Nilesh Savargaonkar Principal Customer and Application Development Engineer, ExxonMobil.

excellent orientability, and gauge uniformity, says the firm.

The company says it is on an ongoing innovation to develop new PE grades that can help enable the creation of mono-material packaging structures.

Dow/Mengniu launch all-PE, recyclable yoghurt pouch in China

US materials firm Dow partnered with Mengniu, a dairy company in China, to launch an all-polyethylene (PE) yoghurt pouch designed for recyclability, to achieving a circular economy in China.

Leveraging the materials science expertise of Dow and the collaboration across the value chain, Mengniu developed its first all-PE yoghurt pouch designed for recyclability.

ExxonMobil HD7165L can help enable converters to produce blown MDO-PE films with 60-70% HDPE for enhanced stiffness and high heat resistance. High output rates in excess of 400 kg/hour are possible, while bubble stability is maintained, adds the US materials firm.

High MDO stretch ratios as high as 7:1, with very high stiffness (1% secant modulus as high as >200 kpsi) can be achieved. With haze less than 10% and gloss higher than 60%, the HD7165L grade offers excellent optical properties. Used as a print web of a PE-PE laminate, HD7165L offers high heat resistance, stiffness for a lack of extensibility, and excellent printability for optimum brand promotion.

In blown MDO-PE film applications, it offers high, uniform orientation, gauge stability, and low gels for easy processability.

Compared to a market reference HDPE grade (density 0.962 g/cm³), the HD7165L grade (density 0.961 g/ cm³) delivers better shear thinning behaviour and extrudability, higher melt strength for bubble stability,

Dow's Innate TF-BOPE resins were used in the pouch, making it a breakthrough for the dairy industry, as it enables traditional hard-torecycle packaging to be integrated into closed-loop recycling streams through responsible recycling and mechanical recycling technology, providing consumers with more choices of sustainable packaging, say the partners.

“This partnership with Mengniu is a milestone for both brands to pioneer all-PE dairy packaging designed for recyclability in China. The country’s ambition to work towards zero-waste cities has changed how it tackles plastic waste. This collaboration is a significant step in facilitating recyclability and empowering the possibilities for recycled packaging to be transformed into highvalue applications through responsible disposal and appropriate recycling process, reducing our industry’s reliance on unrenewable resources,” said Bambang Candra, Asia Pacific commercial vice president of Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics.

Mengniu set a goal to achieve 100% technically recyclable packaging by 2025, striving to adopt lowcarbon packaging in all product lines.

The Chinese firm says that environmental-friendly manufacturing is an important pillar of its sustainability strategy, and adopting more sustainable packaging is one significant action to fulfil the commitment.

ExxonMobil has introduced a HDPE grade for converters to create mono-material MDO flexible films Nuts, crackers, condiments, granola bars, potato chips, etc. BOPET or BOPP BOPET or BOPP
Ink Ink Adhesive Adhesive
Blown PE or cast PE Blown PE or cast PE Dow/Mengniu have collaborated to introduce an all-PE yoghurt pouch for China

Origin/Terphane for biopolymer films; Origin/Husky for PET/FDCA bottles

BOPET producer Terphane, part of Tredegar Corporation, and carbon negative materials firm Origin Materials have announced a strategic partnership to produce sustainable bio-polymer films using Origin Materials’ biobased PEF polymer.

As part of the partnership, Terphane signed a multiyear capacity reservation agreement to purchase the advanced bio-polymer PEF for use in film applications, including food and beverage packaging and highvalue industrial applications. BOPEF is biaxially oriented PEF, and BOPET is biaxially oriented PET. These stretched polymer films are valued for their strength, transparency, barrier properties, and electrical insulation.

Origin Materials’ patented technology platform represents a potential breakthrough in the commercialisation of cost-competitive and low-carbon PEF.

Made from furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), the primary precursor to PEF, Origin PEF is a polymer with an attractive combination of sustainability and performance characteristics for packaging including enhanced barrier properties. Origin’s PEF is expected to be 100% plantbased, fully recyclable, have attractive unit economics, and to offer a significantly reduced carbon footprint, with superior strength, thermal properties, and barrier properties compared to today’s widely used petroleumbased materials.

According to Marcos Vieira, global director of R&D for Terphane, “The development of this film will be critical to our efforts to meet this new global demand for sustainable flexible packaging solutions.

The film is partially made from PEF and has all the traditional properties of a regular PET film, including post-consumption recycling. In addition, PEF provides an excellent thermal resistance and superior barrier performance, extending the shelf life of the packaged products.” Vieira adds that initial tests in the US proved the material works perfectly in extrusion lines.

Since its founding in 1976, Terphane has developed technologies and processes to produce specialty BOPET films and the company is recognised for its vertical integration, from resin to specialty films. Terphane is a global leader in speciality PET films, and a key company in Latin America.

Meanwhile in related news, Origin Materials and machinery firm Husky Technologies have announced a milestone in the commercialisation of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) incorporating FDCA for advanced packaging and other applications.

Origin successfully polymerised the bio-based sustainable chemical FDCA into the common recyclable plastic, PET, and Husky moulded the resulting “PET/F” hybrid polymer into preforms that were then blown into bottles. The companies used Husky’s injection moulding technologies and manufacturing equipment, a commercial manufacturing-scale level of processing demonstrating the ability of PET/F, a polymer made with FDCA, to be integrated into existing PET production systems.

Origin expects to develop and sell a family of 100% bio-based, low-carbon PET/F polymers offering full recyclability and improved performance compared with traditional 100% petroleum-derived PET.

Origin anticipates that PET/F will offer “tunable” performance, with properties like enhanced mechanical performance and barrier properties enabling longer shelf life controlled by adjusting manufacturing conditions and the quantity of FDCA copolymer.

This innovation demonstrates a pathway for the drop-in market adoption of FDCA to produce polymers cost-effectively from biomass using Origin technology. Origin expects to enable the production of FDCA, PEF (polyethylene furanoate), and PET/F at commercial scale using its patented technology platform, which turns the carbon found in sustainable wood residues into useful materials, while capturing carbon in the process.

FDCA is a chemical building block with diverse applications including polyesters, polyamides, polyurethanes, coating resins, and plasticisers.

FDCA is also the precursor for the next-generation sustainable polymer PEF. By combining FDCA with PET, Origin has produced PET/F, a “tunable” hybrid polymer offering performance enhancements and full recyclability.

Terphane/Origin will produce biobased films from Origin’s biobased PEF

Origin Materials and Husky are to commercialise PET/FDCA bottles

Injection Moulding Asia

Making fire retardants safer and cleaner

Fire safety, amid a rapidly evolving technological landscape, is a crucial concern. It hinges on the efficacy of flame retardants (FRs) used in plastics for the electronics sector. Yet, recent research highlights that the perceived safety of FRs may be overstated, raising concerns about the impact on both the environment and human health. How are manufacturers addressing these emerging challenges, asks Angelica Buan in this report.

Recentyears have witnessed remarkable progress in flame retardants (FRs) – substances added to materials like plastics, textiles, and coatings to curb fire spread. With technology’s growing integration in our lives, the demand for effective and environmentally friendly FRs has surged. Striking the right balance between innovation and safety is paramount.

FRs have been in use since the 1970s, but concerns have surfaced regarding potential health risks tied to their exposure. Ongoing research highlights that while these chemicals can be advantageous in specific applications, they might pose harm to both humans and animals. Negative effects include disruptions in endocrine systems, immune function, reproduction, cancer susceptibility, and impacts on fetal and child development.

Advancing technology has led to more intricate devices producing heightened heat during operation, amplifying fire risks. Thus, FRs play a vital role in mitigating these hazards, particularly in electrical and electronics (E&E) sector. Modern FRs not only strive to prevent fires but also minimise their ecological and health impacts.

Halogenated flame retardants, materials of concern

Halogenated FRs are commonly used but problematic due to health and environmental concerns. Some have been banned or phased out, but there are still untested types likely to pose similar risks, according to the Green Science Policy Institute, which works with the industry and NGOs to limit the use of FRs for safer furniture, electronics, and building insulation.

Halogen-free FRs, positioned as safer alternatives, gained a market worth of US$2 billion in 2022. This sector is projected to grow from US$2.2 billion in 2023 to US$3.4 billion by 2032, with a CAGR of 5.65% through 2030, according to Market Research Future

Thus, Boston-based company CAI Performance Additives has developed a halogen-free FR for PC films/sheets. This additive, ST-SR487, allows for UL94 V-0 certification in 0.25-mm-thick PC film, offering a safer alternative to halogen-based solutions containing bromine, iodine, or chlorine. It also resists yellowing, weathering, and provides hydrolysis protection for water-contact products.

Additives for fire-safe plastics

The increasing demand for FR solutions in plastics and composites across industries like electronics, construction, and automotive, coupled with stricter fire safety standards, is driving the need for sustainable FR chemicals.

The increased usage of polymers in the automotive industry, as well as the growing concern about environmental protection from harmful compounds used in E&E, all contribute to this trend. German chemicals company BASF and specialty biocide supplier Thor have teamed up to provide comprehensive nonhalogenated FR additive solutions.

Both companies are active members of the Phosphorus, Inorganic, and Nitrogen Flame Retardants Association (PINFA), a sector group within the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and representing the manufacturers and users of non-halogenated phosphorus, inorganic and nitrogen FRs, emphasising non-halogenated options.

Increasingly complex technology has resulted in devices generating higher levels of heat while in operation, increasing the potential for fires. Consequently, flame retardants are crucial for reducing these dangers, especially within the electrical and electronics sector

Different types of FRs exist, including brominated and chlorinated variants often used alongside antimony. Examples include polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD). Organophosphorous and inorganic alternatives, like tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate and aluminium hydroxide, are also prevalent. Some FRs, like PBDEs, can be hazardous. Harmful chemicals can also be present in plastic waste, raising environmental and health alarms.

The companies’ combined expertise in FR additives demonstrates the synergistic benefits of integrating BASF’s halogenfree Flamestab, with Thor’s phosphonates Aflammit technology.

Prolonging device lifespan with anti-corrosion materials

BASF has expanded its range of polyphthalamide (PPA) offerings with FR grades that offer a blend of high thermal stability, electrical insulation, and low water absorption. These PPA grades feature high electrical RTI values (Relative Thermal Index) above 140°C and are halogen-free, according to EN 50642 standards, preventing corrosion and failure of electrical parts in humid conditions. Electronics 1 SEPTEMBER 2023

Injection Moulding Asia

These non-halogenated PPAs, derived from materials like PA9T, PA66/6T, PA6T/66, and PA6T/6, also allow for improved colourability and colour stability. This expansion by BASF offers a tailored portfolio for E&E applications, creating new possibilities for uses like power or data transmission connectors in vehicles, appliances, consumer electronics, as well as e-mobility components, miniature circuit breakers, switchgear, and sensors.

As well, BASF emphasises that its materials respond to new trends, such as halide-free heat stabilisers, to prevent contact corrosion in sensitive components exposed to heat and moisture, ensuring the longevity and proper functioning of E&E devices.

BASF’s halogen-free flame-retardant PPAs for corrosionfree electronic components with high electrical RTI values above 140°C

BASF’s product range includes the easily processable

Ultramid One J 60X1 V30, a PA66/6T obtained from Belgian firm Solvay. Paired with the PPA pioneer Ultramid TKR 4340G6 (PA6T/6), it is said to boasts the highest electrical RTI value of 160°C alongside straightforward processability. Another standout is PA9T Ultramid Advanced N3U41G6, with an electrical RTI of 150°C and minimal water absorption, crucial for Surface Mount Technology (SMT) processing. Meanwhile, Ultramid Advanced T2340G6, a PA6T/66, showcases improved flowability and an electrical RTI of 150°C, making it well-suited for wire-to-board and board-to-board connectors.

Cleaner flame-retardant resins from bio-circular sources

Meanwhile, chemical firm Sabic is offering biobased versions of its Noryl resin line, with a range that includes several variations, such as Flexible Noryl, Noryl GTX, and Noryl PPX. These resins are developed using polyphenylene ether (PPE) blended with other materials like HIPS, PP, PA, or TPE, along with additives and fillers.

The biobased, non-brominated/ non-chlorinated FR resin, Noryl NH5120BIO4, is targeted at applications like enclosures and

Sabic offers biobased versions of its Noryl resin with FR grades targeted at automotive electrical components; housings and enclosures, HVAC components and photovoltaic/solar junction boxes

housings; HVAC components, and PV/solar junction boxes. With a UL flame rating of V1 at 1.5 mm with no intentionally added per and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), these resins provide a balance of heat resistance, flow, hydrolytic and dimensional stability, and creep performance, while retaining good mechanical properties in harsh outdoor environments.

Elsewhere, German materials firm Covestro now also offers a PC with a 90% recycled content of plastic from post-consumer waste (PCR) that can be used in consumer electronics, among other applications. The carbon footprint of the new Makrolon PCR PC resin is 70% lower than that of a comparable fossil-based virgin plastic and is part of the CQ portfolio of circular solutions at Covestro. The company plans to initially offer this grade in the Asia-Pacific region.

Covestro offers a PC with 90% recycled plastic from PCR that can be used in consumer electronics

The PCR grade is manufactured with halogenfree FRs that meet performance requirements without increasing environmental impact. It also meets the highest V-0 rating of Underwriters Laboratories’ UL 94 flammability standards.

Covestro’s Bayblend FR3010 R75 PC blend is used, for example, in the ear cups of Danish brand Jabra’s latest Evolve2 headset series for audio equipment and video conferencing systems. This type is made of 75% recycled material and has a 50% lower carbon footprint.

Additives to supercharge batteries for electric mobility

Elsewhere, researchers at the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) have developed a groundbreaking FR additive for lithium-ion batteries commonly used in electric vehicles (EVs). This advancement addresses the risk of battery ignition and significantly enhances safety. The new additive, based on fluorosulfate, outperforms the traditional phosphorous FR triphenyl phosphate (TPP) in terms of flame resistance, electrochemical stability, and overall battery performance.

Lithium-ion batteries consist of four key components: cathode and anode materials, an electrolyte, and a separator. The cathode releases lithium ions during energy release, while the anode stores them during charging. The electrolyte aids the smooth movement of these ions, and the separator prevents direct contact between cathode and anode to prevent hazardous chemical reactions.

FR additives are introduced to electrolytes to bolster safety. Previous phosphorous-based additives had limitations, requiring larger amounts to be effective and causing interfacial resistance between battery components, leading to reduced performance. ETRI’s researchers designed a fluorosulfate-based additive, resolving these drawbacks and achieving superior results. 2 SEPTEMBER 2023 Electronics


Through rigorous electrochemical tests, the team integrated this new additive into lithium nickel, manganese, and cobalt cathodes along with a lithium metal anode. This implementation demonstrated a 2.3-fold improvement in flame resistance and a 160% enhancement in battery performance compared to conventional additives. The key factor was the minimiSed interfacial reaction between electrodes and electrolytes, resulting in significantly reduced resistance.

An important advantage of the fluorosulphate-based additive is its ease of commercialisation, as it can be incorporated into existing lithium-ion battery production without requiring process changes.

Meanwhile German speciality chemicals firm Lanxess offers FR plastics specifically designed for EVs. These plastics are crucial for components like battery modules, housings, connectors, and charging infrastructure. To ensure these plastic parts have effective FR properties, Lanxess says it provides a range of phosphorus-based and bromine-based FRs for different types of polymers.

ETRI intends to explore further applications for this FR additive, including in lithium metal oxide anodes and cathodes, black oxide electrodes, and silicon electrode cathodes. This breakthrough brings electric vehicle safety a step closer to reality while also contributing to advancements in battery technology.

FR plastics play a big role in electronics

The vast majority of EV batteries perform without issues throughout their useful life. Although thermal runaway incidents are extremely infrequent, the safety-conscious automotive industry is highly focused on ensuring that the design and performance of EV battery systems prolong the time available to exit a vehicle by delaying the propagation of a fire beyond the battery pack for as long as possible. A key consideration is the proper selection and deployment of fire protection materials used for battery pack components, including enclosures and covers, trays, thermal barriers that separate cells into groups, etc.

Recently, Sabic announced that its Stamax 30YH570 resin has earned the UL Verified Mark from Underwriters Laboratories. This 30% glass fibre-reinforced copolymer resin, a featured product offered under the company’s Bluehero electrification initiative, is the first polymer used in EV battery systems to receive UL Verification for marketing claims of thermal and mechanical performance. UL Verification, based on an objective, scientific assessment by a respected third party, can give customers high confidence in the flame delay performance of this product.

One notable area where Lanxess says it contributes is in addressing the heat generated during fast-charging EV batteries. It offers synthetic fluids like phosphoric esters that are designed for immersion cooling, efficiently dissipating the generated heat. These fluids possess key properties such as electrical non-conductivity and strong FR characteristics.

Recently, Lanxess’s subsidiary Saltigo collaborated with Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology, a Chinese lithium-ion battery materials producer, to create electrolyte formulations for lithium-ion batteries. This partnership underscores Lanxess’s commitment to advancing battery technology and safety.

Hence, there is no doubt that the innovations being undertaken shape the future of E&E manufacturing, ensuring that devices are both cutting-edge and safe, as well as contributing to a sustainable and secure future.

Injection Moulding Asia 3
ETRI researchers have developed a groundbreaking fluorosulphatebased additive for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles Sabic’s Stamax 30YH570 resin is first polymer to earn a UL verified mark for thermal runaway protection of EV battery systems Lanxess offers custom fire-resistant plastics for EV components like battery modules, housings, and connectors, utilising a range of phosphorus-based and bromine-based formulations to ensure effective fire-retardant properties

Rubber Journal Asia

Rubber industry in the digital age: how technology can save forests, boost business

Emerging policies on ethical material sourcing, such as the EU Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR)’s zero-deforestation rule, underscore ecosystem preservation and market growth. Meanwhile, advanced traceability technological evolution will aid in efficiently achieving these goals for the rubber industry, according to Angelica Buan in this report.

Rubber demand taking a toll on ecosystem

Production of natural rubber has become linked to deforestation, and the rubber industry is now working to address this problem, which according to advocacy organisation Mighty Earth , is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia and Western Africa.

This deforestation is hastening climate change and devastating the habitats of endangered animals such as tigers, gibbons, and elephants. Setting up rubber plantations also often involves violating the rights of forest-dwelling communities and Indigenous people, leading to forced displacement, land seizures, and human rights violations. Additionally, smallholder farmers who cultivate rubber are currently receiving very low compensation for their efforts.

Despite efforts towards sustainability in the rubber industry, a significant challenge in terms of transparent supply chains is impeding its progress. A recent evaluation by free, online platform assessing commodity producers Spott , an initiative by the Zoological Society of London ( ZSL ), assessed how well commodity producers, processors, and traders disclose their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Unfortunately, the assessment highlighted a notable lack of transparency and traceability. It said that 79% of natural rubber manufacturers assessed have not yet publicly declared the ability to trace their rubber supply to the processor level. At the time of the study, only two companies, tyre makers Michelin and Bridgestone , claimed they could trace some rubber back to its harvesting location.

This absence of traceability is alarmingly amplifying the risks of deforestation, especially as plantation expansion continues in unidentified highrisk areas, noted Sam Ginger, ZSL’s Sustainable Business Specialist.

Natural rubber production, particularly in Southeast Asia and Western Africa, has become entwined with deforestation. The rubber industry is actively addressing this issue
Spott, an online platform by ZSL, evaluates ESG disclosure of commodity stakeholders


Despite the complex nature of the natural rubber supply chain involving millions of smallholder farmers, pilot projects have shown it’s feasible to trace rubber from processing facilities back to these farms. This enables buyers to support farm sustainability.

EUDR: turning a new leaf for sustainable material sourcing

Emerging technologies are enabling secure tracking and tracing of assets and their associated data back to their source.

Anna Roberts, Head of Market Development at UK-based software firm iov42 , discussed how these technologies empower businesses to operate confidently and enhance efficiency in their pursuit of net-zero goals, in an interview with RJA ( ).

Roberts highlighted that iov42, a start-up gaining traction in Europe, assists importers/exporters in meeting due diligence requirements, including those set by the EUDR, which restricts non-compliant product placement or export within the EU market.

In a law that came into enforcement after 31 December 2020, companies have to ensure legality and sustainability in their sourced products, avoiding ties to deforested sources. The EUDR aims to minimise the EU’s deforestation impact by encouraging “deforestationfree” product consumption. Enforced since June 2023, its provisions will apply from December 2024.

The global concern over deforestation holds significant weight, particularly for the EU, which seeks to lower GHG and biodiversity loss through deforestation. Roberts stressed that approximately 15-30% of emissions directly result from deforestation, with some tropical forests emitting more carbon due to this activity.

Roberts furthered that technologies such as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) have the potential to transform the industry, since DLT’s decentralised and immutable system can create solutions that prioritise trust and accountability and fulfils the requirement for secure asset and data tracking while safeguarding a company’s trade secrets, a crucial element for complying with net-zero policies.

“For example, when it comes to complex supply chains, not only can use of this technology improve efficiencies and help build stronger bonds of trust between participants and consumers, but it can also help importers meet existing and new regulations, such as the EUDR, and help organisations towards their net-zero targets,” she explained.

She added that iov42 offers a traceability solution to assist organisations trading commodities subject to regulations like the EUDR, covering items such as rubber, timber, cocoa, coffee, soy, and palm oil, among others.

The DLT solution provides users with several benefits, including trusted and secure storage of necessary due diligence information, complete with time stamps and tamper-proof measures. It maintains auditable digital records of all stakeholders in a specific supply chain and their associated products.

It also ensures easy and secure access to relevant information and features interlinked information that is easy to navigate, eliminating the need to sift through emails and paperwork. Furthermore, it shares shipment information with buyers, enabling them to trace product origins and perform due diligence/risk assessments, and compliance at the point of receiving shipments.

Enabling traceability and transparency

The DLT ledger that records and verifies transactions assists importers/exporters in achieving traceability and transparency throughout the entire supply network. Each stage, from harvesting and processing to distribution, can be documented on this purpose-built technology, offering a comprehensive record of the products’ origin and movement. As a result, identifying potential risks or illegal activities becomes easier due to enhanced visibility of the chain of custody.

“Our technology enables an organisation to answer five key questions: Who am I transacting with? Do I trust what we’re exchanging? Can I be sure the value exchange has happened digitally? Where is the proof of that value exchange? How do I know it has happened in accordance with regulation?” Roberts said.

Anna Roberts, iov42’s Head of Market Development, discussed tech’s role in boosting businesses’ confidence and efficiency towards net-zero goals

This involves using dynamic digital identities, assets, claims, and endorsements, all validated by reputable third parties. This data is stored and connected within the system. Once verified, stakeholders can conduct thorough due diligence on a product’s entire history, like in the rubber industry, from plantation to the customer. This technology improves supply chain accountability and integrates science-based testing and third-party certifications, ensuring product authenticity and sustainability.

Rubber Journal Asia

Users can securely store due diligence data, including certificates, compliance records, life cycle analysis, and risk assessments. This information is easily accessible for inspections, compliance checks, and audits, promoting transparency and efficiency in processes.

“The technology also makes it possible for businesses and governments to help combat issues such as long-held systems of child labour, prevent the destruction of habitats and improve the lives of local communities,” she added.

Securing data to protect “trade secrets”

The software firm’s technology ensures data integrity through immutability and cryptography. Public/private key cryptography and customisable permissions maintain secure interactions within the DLT network. Only authorised users can perform transactions and access data, safeguarding against unauthorised access.

Information that is recorded on the DLT becomes immutable and cannot be erased. “Some people are worried that the immutability means that it is not possible to make any corrections. However, any issues can be resolved by making amendments, it’s just that both the original version and the amended version will be stored on the DLT, providing an auditable history of changes. By doing this, the integrity of the due diligence related data is ensured, data quality increases, and the risk of falsified documents or fraudulent claims will be mitigated.” Roberts explained.

Even so, with all the powerful capabilities of DLT, some organisations have not yet fully embraced its adoption. “According to our timber traceability report,” Roberts intoned, “56% of respondents held unfounded concerns that the utilisation of traceability technology, like DLT, might lead to the exposure of trade secrets.”

She clarified that DLT operates with a system of permissions that users can adjust to either grant or limit access. “For instance, shipment data is accessible to the importer only after the exporter has established a connection and specifically shared the shipment details with them. Thus, while it remains immutable, trade secrets are not divulged beyond those who require the information,” she elaborated.

Ensuring compliance to zero deforestation

Meanwhile, since May 2023, the EUDR has been officially adopted. “This means that the 27 countries of the EU have agreed to a new law that will enhance the regulation of the trade of soy, cattle, palm oil, wood, cocoa, coffee, and rubber in an effort to reduce their contribution to global deforestation. It also means that one of the natural methods of removing greenhouse gases is now even more protected,” stated Roberts.

She explained that from January 2025, organisations will have a legal obligation to verify that any products imported into or exported out of the EU do not contribute to deforestation. “This involves confirming traceability beyond their direct supplier and all the way back to the source, whether it’s in Malaysia, Indonesia, the US, Brazil, or other source countries,” Roberts stated.

However, there are still clarifications being sought and information required as industries comply with the EUDR policy.

“Understandably, we are looking to guide importers and one of the things we do know is that they will require a certain amount of information from their suppliers as part of their due diligence statement - including geolocation data,” said Roberts.

“As a result, we are seeing many exporters wanting to also get ahead of the regulation so that they can support and provide the necessary information to the importers further down the supply chain. However, this isn’t always easy.”

She furthered that cooperatives are able to support in the gathering of this information, given that no guidance has been given and often smallholders don’t have the necessary tools to extract and share this detail.

She mentioned that numerous commodities and upstream processes maintain a traditional approach, relying heavily on paper-based methods, and the concept of digitalisation still appears distant. Communication often involves emails, text messages, spreadsheets, and shared drives, which not only seems outdated but also lacks security.

“The burden of regulatory compliance is real, and our goal is to make work easier and less time consuming for those needing to meet these new requirements. For instance, our technology has been designed to work with, rather than replace, existing systems. Integration and interoperability between our system and client/supplier systems will be critical for successful adoption,” she said. 3
Journal Asia
Asian countries that produce goods have a chance to stand out globally by meeting EU standards, especially in traceability, according to Roberts

Anticipating a carbon-neutral future for Asia

Considering the EU’s deforestation regulation, there are questions about its potential to disrupt established business practices. As the policy gains wider adoption and stricter enforcement, market dynamics and trade patterns might shift. This holds significance for Asia, a global trade leader, yet still susceptible to deforestation’s negative effects. Notably, there’s no exact regional policy counterpart in place.

Hence, we raise questions: How could these shifts impact international trade relations? How can the EU promote sustainable practices beyond its borders? What implications might this hold for Asia?

Roberts explained, “In Asia, a wide range of practices and businesses have varying impacts. Japan and Korea have enacted legislation similar to the EU’s for timber. Indonesia and Malaysia have been pioneers in promoting legal and sustainable practices. Asian countries that produce goods have a chance to stand out globally by meeting EU standards, especially in traceability. By outpacing rubber-producing nations in South America and Africa, they could gain significant market acceptance. While Asian nations can achieve independently, the EU could have a substantial role in aiding producer countries. This includes supporting EUDR compliance, enhancing capabilities, and investing in local infrastructure.”

As to how the new deforestation regulation might contribute to or hinder the achievement of EU’s carbon neutrality objectives, Roberts countered, “The EU has hopes that consuming fewer products relating to deforestation will bring down GHG emissions and biodiversity loss, since around 15-30% of GHG emissions come directly from deforestation, and with examples of tropical forests now emitting more carbon than it sequesters due to deforestation.”

Fostering business trust with technologies Inquiring about the potential innovations that could arise due to the new regulation’s impact on various industries, Roberts said: “We’re already seeing the emergence of numerous new technologies, whether it’s a satellite image analysis, scientific testing, or smartphone tools for scanning products and recording their dimensions, to name a few. It is perhaps more interesting to consider, which among these will yield a positive impact on the industries.”

She also opined that the solutions that will come out on top are those that complement and seamlessly integrate with existing processes, “avoiding the need for a complete overhaul”. As well, those that collaborate with one another (interoperability) instead of adhering to a “one solution to rule them all” and provide immediate commercial value.

“By this, we mean enabling organisations to demonstrate compliance while also enhancing business operations: be it revenue, time to market, market access, time savings or risk management,” added Roberts.

Shifting the focus to digitalisation, there is also the question of how data-driven technology could enhance the Asian rubber industry, aiding it in reaching their carbonneutral targets and deforestation agenda.

“Digitising trade flows and reducing paper documentation could lead to a projected 10% decrease in logistics-related GHGs. In our technology-driven society, addressing problems in one area should not lead to unintended consequences in another. What we mean is that processes for upholding the EUDR should avoid unintentionally adding to carbon emissions and deforestation,” emphasised Roberts.

She further commented: “Working with excellent organisations in Southeast Asia, we have observed that digitising processes can enhance data quality and accountability. This has led to a positive response from European buyers, and even talks about being willing to pay more. “

“Our ultimate goal at iov42 is to simplify tasks for those dedicated to legal and sustainable trade and production. If we can employ technologies to automate processes (like certificate checks and mass balance calculations), enhance security (by giving users more control over their data and its sharing), and improve visibility (by tracing products along supply chains), then trust will be established. And with trust comes the development of strong business relationships,” Roberts concluded.

iov42’s Timber Chain platform, which provides digital data recording for businesses and optimises auditing and certification, aims to combat illegal timber activities, encourage data-driven decisionmaking, and offer transparent audit trails

Digitalisation Rubber Journal Asia




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