Tag Archives: circular economy

Circular plastic building materials

Groothuisbouw is an innovative builder using prefabrication to produce custom build houses. The company is a frontrunner in the building industry.

Groothuisbouw located in Emmeloord is a company that constructs houses using an industrialised system and customer specifications. Using a collection of property types, customers can chooses their preferred version even down to the level of rooftiles and gables. These houses are constructed (prefab) at their own production location and can be build within 3 days at the prepared site.

Groothuisbouw uses traditional materials, like wood and stone. They would like to know whether plastics would be a suitable alternative.  And what this would mean both for the sustainability impact of the houses and their own production process. The advantages of plastics compared to traditional building materials are the low weight, the isolating properties, the slight maintenance, the possibilities for integration and the possibility to use recycled plastics.

To make the possibilities viable for  Groothuisbouw and to develop prototypes,  we have set up a chain project. In this project an architect, a producer of roof duct systems, an injection moulder, an extrusion company, a composite producer,  a producer of isolation material, a plastic collector and a plastic recycler.  Together these companies created several new and unexpected product ideas. The possibilities seemed to be endless.  Three of these ideas have been developed into prototypes. The accompanying energy and environmental impact, compared to traditional products, has been calculated using an LCA. The positive impact turned out to be major.

The thee products 

  • Composite dormer, using polyester resin with glass fiber and a gelcoating with zinc powder. Less maintenance, installation costs and materials;

Smit Composite has developed a composite dormer with a higher fluid and crack density than a traditional wooden dormer.  The lifetime is prolonged and the installation is easier. The gelcoating gives the dormer a luxurious appearance. Groothuisbouw intends to market the new dormer as an exclusive product and aims to have six models in their showroom soon.  Our preliminary LCA shows that this composite dormer lowers the CO2 impact with 21 % during production and use compared to the traditional wooden alternative.

  • Composite chimney, replacing bricks and a steel frame with a lightweight composite structure and sawn stone strips creating a sightly finish. The stone cover plate was also replaced with a composite look-a-like. 

Smit Composite has designed and developed a new chimney, which is 71% lighter than a traditional chimney.  Smit used a composite structure,  outlined with sawn stone strips that can replace the steel frame and bricks.The stone cover plate was also replaced with a composite alternative. No LCA has been conducted for this chimney.

  • Integrated cornice, using one piece of recycled pvc to create the fascias and trim. Meaning less production and installation costs.

For the third project  Profextru has researched a cornice of recycled PVC. This PVC was orginally used for PVC window frames.  By using  injection moulding it was possible to create a cornice in one part and to integrate different functions. This saves maintenance and installation costs. Als the weight is much lower than that of a wooden cornice.  Groothuisbouw researches the possible production volume, with this information Profextru can decide whether this cornice will be viable for their production facilities. The provisional LCA shows that a plastic cornice lowers the CO2 emission with 35% when compared to the wood alternative.

Advantages of a chain project

A product development approach involving the valuechain means that knowledge and ideas from different angles are shared. Using a (circular) chain approach, forces you to have an intergral look at solutions and prevents incomplete solutions that turn out to be problematic at the end of the first operational phase of a project. This practical approach means producers have greater understanding of the impact of their design and suppliers gain insight in the possiblities.

Groothuisbouw can now bring the new solutions to market.  Valuale contacts have been made and knowledge was shared, even with parties that did not take part in the sessions. Moreover this project has led to a publication:  the Dutch magazine Netwerk van de Nederlandse kunststofindustrie published two pages on this project (June 2017).

Advantages for the construction industry

This project is not just about new knowledge for Groothuisbouw and its partners; it is an example for creating value in the (often) traditional building industry.  For example by working together with an adjoining sector, such as the plastics industry.  By breaking the invisible borders between sectors, new opportunities arise to work more efficient, precise and sustainable.

Like to learn more?

Contact: Ingeborg Gort

This chain project was done with support of RVO.nl  

* Participants in this project:

  • Groothuisbouw, builder
  • Ubbink, producer of plastic roof products
  • Profextru, developer of eco-friendly products made from recycled plastic
  • Omefa, plastic injection moulding
  • Smit Composite, producer plastic composite products
  • Isobouw, producer isolating building products
  • Van Gansewinkel, waste operator;
  • QCP, supplier plastic compounds from post-consumer waste;
  • Bureau SLA en Overtreders W, architects experienced in applying recycled plastics
  • NRK, federatie Nederlandse kunststof en rubberindustrie
  • Innovatielink, MKB steunpunt Topsector Chemie (initiator of the project)

 

 

Circular plastic building materials – a world of opportunities

An innovative builder from Emmeloord was interested to learn whether applying plastics could help them in building more sustainable homes. And they wanted to know what this would mean for their production process.

To make the possibilities viable for  Groothuisbouw and to develop prototypes,  Partners for Innovation have set up a chain project. In this project an architect, a producer of roof duct systems, an injection moulder, an extrusion company, a composite producer,  a producer of isolation material, a plastic collector and a plastic recycler.

Together these companies created several new and unexpected product ideas. The possibilities seemed to be endless.  Three of these ideas have been developed into prototypes: a dormer, a chimney and a cornice.  Partners for Innovation has also calculated the accompanying energy and environmental impact using our LCA-tool. The positive impact, compared to traditional products, turned out to be major. Moreover the composites alternatives have a longer lifespan, are easier to manufacture and require less maintenance.

The partners in this project will continue to work together to get this products to the market. The domers can already be admired in the Groothuisbouw showroom.

Want to learn more?

 

Vietnam in the Spotlight

Vietnam ontwikkelt zich tot een land met vele kansen en een aantrekkelijk ondernemersklimaat. Nederland is koploper op het gebied van duurzaamheid en circulaire economie.

Dit seminar organiseren wij in samenwerking met Evofenedex en CREM op donderdag 7 december 2017.

Doel is om alle do’s en don’ts over ondernemen in Vietnam op een rijtje te zetten. Er is speciale aandacht voor de circulaire economie.

Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) is de opdrachtgever voor de Nederlandse Ambassade in Vietnam, die hiermee het Nederlands bedrijfsleven wil ondersteunen.

Voor meer informatie en om u aan te melden, zie de volgende link:  www.evofenedex.nl

 

Recycled plastics in electronics: from individual pilots to industry collaboration

Ten companies in the electronics sectors, together with the two trade associations Digital Europe and CECED, gathered in September for a two days’ workshop.  Goal of this workshop was to formulate concrete projects to use more recycled plastics in electronic appliances. All parties agree that the market for recycled plastics will get a boost when electronics producers increase the use of these plastics in their products. Industry collaboration can help speed up this development. The workshop in Brussels boosted this cooperation. 

“We already have projects on recycled plastics. We started back in 2010 by introducing more and more recycled plastics” Eelco Smit, sustainability manager of Philips explains. “Now we want to take this to the next level. We are too small to make a big change ourselves: we can only make a change if we get critical mass.”The collaborative workshop, bringing together several electronics producers, electronic collectors, virgin producers and recyclers, gives companies the opportunity to learn from each other and work together to achieve industry wide collaboration. [1]

Different material properties

Why are recycled plastics not reused for new electronics yet? Often this is related to the material properties of the recycled material. These are not the same as the properties of virgin material. This means electronic producers need to test all recycled materials for all different product groups – a time consuming process. In addition, the designers working for brand owners do not always know how to design with recycled materials. And even if they do have this knowledge, high quality recycled materials are not always available in large quantities. The bigger electronics brands such as BSH (Bosch Siemens) and Philips prefer to work with large suppliers. Recyclers, on the other hand, face the challenge to produce a high quality and high value material at a competitive price. This involves large investments in machines needed to separate the different plastics from each other. The recyclers deal with a mixed materials supply stream, as many product types (e.g. washing machines together with tumble dryers, dishwashers, cookers, etc) are collected together.

What’s next?

During the workshop participants shared their knowledge, evaluated their supply chains and created new ideas how to make this more circular. Subsequently, they worked together on solutions for the current challenges. This resulted in five project proposals. A group of workshop participants agreed to work on an educational tool “Design for Recycling” in order for designers to get more in-depth knowledge on working with different recycled materials. Another group worked on a project proposal related to standardization of recycled plastics, whereas another group focused on improving the collection and recycling of filled PP(polypropylene) from washing machines. The participants will be invited again to follow up on the progress in the projects. One thing is clear: all parties are highly motivated to close the plastics loop. As Gisela Lehner from Borealis stated: “Plastics is too valuable to throw away, we want to be part of the second life of plastics.” To be continued…

More information? contact Marjolein van Gelder or Ingeborg Gort.

[1] Present at the workshop were CECED, Digital Europe, Ricoh, Technicolor, Philips, BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, Eco-systèmes, Recupel, Coolrec, MBA Polymers, Urban Mining Corp and  Borealis.

Vanderlande – Closing the loop experiment with baggage handling system

In 2017 a new baggage hall at Eindhoven Airport was put into service. Eindhoven Airport and Vanderlande did not want the old baggage handling system to end up as waste. Therefore they started an experiment with partners in the circular value chain to extend the lifespan of the system.

In this video we share learnings from the Closing the Loop experiment.

 

More information about the project: news

ICL Fertilizers and province of North Holland invest in circular fertilizer

ICL fertilizers has started a project to produce circular fertilizer by extracting phosphate from waste ashes. The Port of Amsterdam can become the first location worldwide producing this type of fertilizer.

ICL partners for innovation

ICL is one of the largest producers of fertilizer in the world with plants spread over five continents. In Europe nearly all phospates are imported.

Growing demand

Phosphate is an essential element of fertilizer in order to grow food. ICL uses phosphate rock a mineral  resource that is only limited available. Because of its limited availabitity and growing demand, finding a good alternative is of vital importance.  So far, this vital ingredient is only used once and then disappears through the food chain in residues, animal manure and sewage water.

Closing the phosphate cycle

ICL is investing, financially aided by the province of North Holland, in a installation that uses waste ashes for the production of fertilizer. Partners for Innovation supported ICL with the project proposal. The main goal of the project is closing the phosphate cycle: using a valuable ingredient more than once.

 

Contact

Peter Karsch p.karsch@partnersforinnovation.com

Elke Roetman e.roetman@partnersforinnovation.com

ICL website

Province of North-Holland website on circular economy (Dutch)

Showcase Schoeller Allibert – Design with recycled plastics

In this video Schoeller Allibert explains how they are able to set up an internal recycling proces from where they can use material from old PP or HDPE crates in new food-approved products. Furthermore they explain how they guarantee a sustainable material source with design for recycling.

This showcase is the result of an MJA3 project supported by Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO Nederland) and The Dutch Federation of Rubber and Plastics Industry (NRK), in cooperation with Philips and developed by Partners for Innovation.

Choices in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – a case study of paper recycling

Using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)  has many benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the results of a LCA are determined by the choices the researcher makes. These choices affect indicators, functional unit, allocation and system boundaries. Especially in the circular economy, with its innovations involving recycling, reuse and circular design, LCAs can be quite complex.

An interesting example  of how we need to treat Life Cycle Assessment results very carefully, is the comparison of the life cycles of paper (or board) products produced from virgin and recycled fibres.

An “odd” conclusion

Around 2009 there was an interesting discussion in the Netherlands about a report that compared the environmental impact of different packaging materials. In this report, the CO2 emission over the life cycle of virgin based paper products appeared to be lower than those of recycled fibre based products. To many, this result seemed rather counter-intuitive and asked for further research.

In order to determine whether or not virgin fibre based products had a lower environmental impact, I performed a study together with Jobien Laurijssen. We created an Excel model to map the mass flows and energy use of the main production processes of different paper production routes in detail.

CO2 vs energy footprint

This study demonstrated the huge benefits in terms of energy use over the total life cycle, by using recovered fibre instead of virgin fibres. The main reason was that the energy required to convert wood into pulp for papermaking, is very large, whereas turning recovered paper into pulp on the other hand requires very little energy (note that the quality of the fibres of virgin pulp differs significantly from recovered paper pulp).

What is interesting from a CO2 emission perspective, is that when wood is converted into pulp using chemical pulping, the process, although incredibly energy intensive, does not emit much CO2. The reason for this is that it uses mostly bio-energy to fuel its energy needs. Wood consists partly of cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin. In chemical pulping, only the cellulose is extracted and the rest is burned for energy recovery. This way, you emit virtually no net CO2 emissions because you use bio-fuel. This means that for every tree, you are only using half its mass to produce paper, while using the other half to produce bio-energy.

Different outcome

At the end of the life-cycle, the used paper can be either recycled or incinerated (let’s assume the paper is not landfilled). When assuming that the paper is incinerated for energy recovery, you can argue that this saves CO2 emissions by saving fossil fuels. When recycling the paper on the other hand, one cannot allocate such CO2 savings due to energy recovery. This also reduces the CO2 emissions of virgin fibre paper products in comparison  to using recovered fibres.

As you can see, although intuitively it may seem clear that recycling of paper is beneficial to the environment over using virgin fibres, when you compare the CO2 footprints the results may show a different outcome, depending on the system boundaries that you take into account. From an energy perspective, there is not much discussion, since recycling of paper saves you that highly energy intensive process of turning wood into pulp. But when it comes down to CO2 emissions, the LCA interpretation becomes much more complex.

Expand the system boundaries

So how can we solve this dilemma? Our research shows that a good solution is to expand the boundaries of the LCA system, and include wood as a resource that has to be used in equal amounts in both the production of paper and board from virgin fibres and recycled fibres. If you assume the “saved” wood due to recycling of recovered paper, for direct energy conversion, then the research of Jobien Laurijssen and me clearly shows that using recovered fibres has a much lower environmental impact than using virgin fibres.

Read 3 ways a LCA makes your company more profitable 

Contact:

Marc Marsidi (paper & board industry) m.marsidi@partnersforinnovation.com

Thomas Dietz (LCA) t.dietz@partnersforinnovation.com

Siem Haffmans (LCA / sustainable packaging) s.haffmans@partnersforinnovation.com

 

 

Succesful first edition of Packaging Industry 2016

Partners for Innovation attended as a media partner the first edition of the Packaging Industry 2016 event, organised by Management Producties. During the event, companies that represent different parts of the circular value chain of food packaging, discussed the challenges and opportunities of sustainable packaging. The general consensus was that in order to realize more sustainable packaging, it is crucial for all parts of the value chain (material producers, packaging producers, brand owners, waste management companies and consumers) to work together.