Tag Archives: plastic recycling

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.

How the silicone cartridge enlightened us

How can a relatively small problem provide great insights? The participant members of the silicone cartridge  project can answer this question. They worked together to tackle the problem of the disposed cartridges. The disposal and recycling of the  cartridges that are (nearly) empty are not  straightforward: they end up in the household plastic packaging through a number of ways and this stands in the way of a recycling process that is sustainable for the future.

All links in the chain

With twelve participant parties joining, every company in the supply chain was represented. And this is key to success: in order to improve a process that covers so many links in the chain, results are likely to fail if one link is missing. Once you get all of them around the table (producer, supplier, wholesaler, waste collector, waste sorter, recycler etc.) you can actually start to imagine results at the end of the line.

Contents vs. packaging

The silicone cartridge itself is not the problem, the leftover contents are. Many of the disposed cartridges  still contain bits of glue and they can obstruct the machines. By establishing this, an important conclusion is: not the packaging should determine the way of disposal but its contents.

Despite the increased cooperation on a European level, the disposal of silicone cartridge differs by country. Therefore one of the recommendations is: set up a research on how cartridges  are disposed of in Belgium and in Germany. The results of this research could help develop a uniform model for disposal in Europe.

Symbols & watermark

Home improvement stores in the Netherlands have asked their suppliers to apply a waste symbol on the packaging. This symbol informs the buyer – either professional or DIY – on how to dispose of the cartridges.

Another solution coming out of the project is applying a watermark on the packaging. The watermark would cover the whole surface of the packaging in order for it to be picked up by a scanner, even when it’s only partly visible on the conveyor belt. Using a watermark could not only prove helpful for the silicone cartridge but also for other purposes, like separating food from non food.

A waste symbol is information for the customer, a watermark is information for the waste sorting companies. It wouldn’t even be visible for the customer. Thinking ahead, symbols and watermarks can be used for marketing and logistics purposes, too.

Experiment

Working together on an improved disposal of silicone cartridges shows us how useful it can be to experiment. Trial and error are essential for innovation. In a project setting where all stakeholders play their part, there’s room for transparency and open communication. Results (whether failure or success) are shared and are there for everyone to see.

The findings coming out of this project go beyond the high tack market. TUSTI, a recycling company, conducted an experiment to see whether it’s possible to remove the leftover bits of glue from the cases (see report). Den Braven (sealant producer) placed, together with its suppliers, a watermark on their cases to participate in a sorting experiment by TOMRA and P&G (see PETCycle project).

Silicone cartridges in a circular economy

The silicone cartridge project is part of the broader ambition to close the loop of plastics. The final report “Silicone cartridges in a Circular Economy” (Dutch) is the result of the chain project at the request of the Chain Agreement Plastics Cycle and the Waste Funds Packaging. The idea of this project was put forward by Michiel Westerhoff (Circulus Berkel) in the steering committee of the Chain Agreement Plastics Cycle and is carried out by Partners for Innovation.

  • More information

– The report with conclusions & recommendations (Dutch)

– The report  “Recycling of sealant tubes”

-Website Kunststofkringloop  (Dutch)

-Website PETcycle project  (English)

  • Project Participants

QCP (Quality Circular Polymers), SUEZ, VWDHZ (Vereniging Winkelketens Doe Het Zelf), Circulus-Berkel, Den Braven Holding B.V., Afvalfonds Verpakkingen, Nedvang, Vereninging Lijmen en Kitten VLK, LCKVA (Learning Centre Kunststof Verpakkingsafval), KIDV (Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken), TUSTI, Filigrade, Fischbach, Partners for Innovation, Ketenakkoord Kunststofkringloop. ·

  • Contact

Ingeborg Gort i.gort@partnersforinnovation.com

 

PET recycling

PET Recycling – supply chain co-operation project

The Burg Group worked together with the NRK (Dutch Plastic Manufacturers Association) and suppliers on a vinegar bottle made from 100% recycled PET.

NRK Berichten, December 2016

Showcase Cumapol: Design with recycled plastics

In this video Cumapol explains how they process and recycle PET flakes from bottles into high quality Custom Made Polyesters that can be used in various (food-approved) applications.

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.

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.

Showcase AKG Polymers: Design with recycled plastics

In this video AKG Polymers explains how they realise high quality PP recyclates and how they can make PP recyclates based on the specific demands from a customer.

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.

Showcase Curver: Design with recycled plastics

In this video Curver explains how they process 100% post-consumer waste materials in their quality products. Furthermore they will explain how they incorporate their environmentally aware DNA in the Curver Ecolife range, products made from 100% post-consumer waste materials.

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.

Showcase Océ – Design with recycled plastics

In this video Océ, a Canon company, explain how they have been able to incorporate recycled materials in the Canon varioPRINT 135 series. Furthermore they highlight drivers and preconditions for succesfully incorporate recycled plastics in industrial printers.

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.

Showcase Philips – Design with recycled plastics

In this video Philips explains how it has incorporated as much as possible recycled plastics in their newest introduction, the Philips PerfectCare Aqua Eco steam generator. In this serie five other videos have been produced in which several Dutch leaders in the industry explain how they incorporate recycled plastics in their products.

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.

Vanderlande: a supply chain project in transportation systems

In a unique project involving ten supply chain partners, global market leader in transportation systems Vanderlande developed two plastic products, that are beneficial for the environment:

  • the TUB, a container in which luggage is carried along a conveyor belt at airports
  • the TRAY, a crate in which products are stored in automated storage- and distribution centres

The TUB for luggage handling

The TUB is used for transportation of bags and suitcases at airports. The current TUB is made of LDPE that is moulded into shape through rotational moulding. The hollow mould is subsequently filled with PU foam. A scuff rib is attached along the edges.

Partners for Innovation has made a Life Cycle Assessment Quick-scan to measure the impact of the current TUBs. The conclusion is that the weight of the TUB contributes considerably to the energy use of the luggage systems (85% of the total impact). This is due to the continuous transportation of the TUB. Therefore it’s crucial that the TUB cannot be heavier if recyclate is applied. Preferably lighter, to realise a higher energy reduction.

SUEZ has recycled twenty TUBs to research the recyclability of the current TUB. It has succeeded in removing the PU foam from the LDPE edges, making it recyclable. Afterwards Promens used it to produce a new TUB. This went surprisingly well, albeit with a different colour than virgin. According to recycling companies this can be resolved by an improved cleanse of the shredder and compounding the recyclate with a strainer. Furthermore, the UHMPE scuff ribs need to be detachable.

The participants have developed several TUB drafts based on different production techniques. At the moment, Vanderlande is researching which of the preliminary designs is most suitable. Applying the recyclate seems to be possible, and by optimising the design a huge reduction of weight and energy can be achieved.

The TRAY  for automated distribution centres

The TRAY is used for the storage of goods in automated storage and distribution systems, also called ACP (Automated Case Picking). This system consists of a stretching structure and an integrated TRAY shuttle; the Vanderlande ADAPTO system. The shuttles transporter the TRAYS with goods to and from the storage and designated entrances and exits. For the current ACP concept no standard storage instruments were available, so Vanderlande decided to develop their own.

Partners for Innovation has made a Life Cycle Assessment Quick-scan to measure the impact of the current TRAYS. The conclusion is that the biggest impact (85%) on the environment comes from the production phase (mainly the material). This means that there benefits can be obtained from the use of recycled material and by optimising the design.

tray-distributiecentra

In designing the TRAY much time is spent on determining the specifications for Vanderlande. Most of the time, the TRAYs are piled up in racks containing products. Two things that needed to be taken into account is the heaviest possible load and the highest possible temperature. When a TRAY a product is needed the TRAY is being taken by a shuttle, and made ready for dispatch through various transportation lines and an operator or robot.

During a brainstorm session the specifications were divided in subfunctions. By asking “How can we?” questions we came up with solutions and ideas for each subfunction. In only thirty minutes we had over a hundred ideas. We put all these ideas in a morphological box and combined them to create drafts. Subsequently, we selected a draft which is elaborated on by Schoeller Alllibert.

Energy reduction

The potential benefit for the environment of the TUB mainly depends on the weight, its recyclability and the appliance of recycled material. The weight of the current TUB is m/l 16 kg, of which 11.4 LDPE and 4.6 kg PU foam. In the new TUB we use recycled HDPE, when available coming from old, recycled TUBs. A weight of 12 kg seems surely feasable, making 72 tonnes rHDPE applicable. This weight reduction of 25% brings about a energy reduction of m/l 12.5%. Regarding an average size airport with 6,000 TUBs this would translate into an energy reduction of 109,000 kWh/year (392 GJ/year).

The new TRAY is not comparable to the currently used crates. Many functionalities have been added, which make them suitable for automated handling in ACP systems. The potential benefit for the environment of the tray depends on the weight and percentage of recycled PP that can be applied to the amount of trays being produced. The weight of the new tray is 3.6 kg and this can be fully made of recycled PP. In an average size warehouse m/n 100,000 trays are used, this is 360 tonnes rPP. This will increase the demand for recycled PP. Compared to virgin, this will result in an energy reduction of 50%.

Cooperation in the chain

Working together has been inspiring but also difficult at times. In this project, several companies were involved who operate in the same market. This implied that participants needed to be open and frank but needed to respect each other’s intellectual property. Everyone presented their drafts but didn’t have to present their final versions to the group.

Contact:

Ingeborg Gort  i.gort@partnersforinnovation.com

Vanderlande transportsystems