Tag Archives: plastics

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?


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.

Guidelines Designing with Recycled Plastics

We are proud to present our new Guidelines for Designing with Recycled Plastics.

In this Guidelines Designing with Recycled Plastics, the most important tips and tricks are shared, for the application of recycled plastic in (high-end) injection moulding products. The Guidelines are the result of a chain project for the Dutch Plastics Industry Association initiated by Philips and Partners for Innovation. The idea for this project started in the working group ‘Recyclate and Product Design’ of the Dutch Plastic Value Chain Agreement.

Six showcases for inspiration 
In the Caseguide Designing with Recycled Plastics, six leading companies from Dutch Industry share their experiences with the application of recycled plastics. Every case is linked to a video (in English). “By sharing this informatie with designers, Research &Development staff, suppliers and plastic converters, we hope to inspire the rest of the market to use more recycled plastics in high-end products“, says Ingeborg Gort-Duurkoop, advisor Sustainable Innovations at Partners for Innovation.

The Guidelines Design is 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.

Download: Guidelines for Designing with Recycled Plastics

Caseguide Designing with Recycled Plastics

Column – A business approach: curse or blessing?

In 1996 the Dutch government published its first policy paper on Environment and Economy. This memorandum laid the foundation for the detachement between economic growth and environmental impact.

The paper created quite a stir and its principles still influence today’s environmental field. Environment and economy are since then inextricably linked. Moreover, environmental awareness appears to have turned into a means to earn money.

Almost twenty years and many ‘profitable business models with a positive environmental impact’ later, Emiel Hanekamp questions whether the path we have chosen is still the right one? Is linking environment and economy in the current fragile economy still a good idea? Or is it time to dust off the intrinsic values of environment and sustainability? 

Plastic reduces environmental impact automotive

The use of drable plastic applications, lightweight components and integration of various functions may reduce the environmental impact the automotive industry has. Following the energy effiency agreements (MJA3), Dutch government and industry aim to achieve an improvement of energy effiency of 2% per year up until 2020.

Partners for Innovation, in collaboration with NRK, organizes and guides the project ‘Sustainable Plastic Product in the Automotive’ to work towards these goals. In this project, ten Dutch companies including Helvoet, NPSP, VDL Parree, Polytec Plastics (Voestalpine), Apollo Vredestein, Berco and SABIC IP collaborate to develop environmentally friendly products for three end customers: DAF Trucks, Inalfa Roof Systems and Leev Mobility.

Ingeborg Gort from Partners for Innovation explains: “The participants are divided in three groups, one for each customer, in such a way that each group has both a material producer and a plastics processor. This way each group represents the entire chain. Working together created cross-pollination and new dynamics.”

NRK Innovation Coach Martin van Dord is convinced that chain cooperation is necessary to be competitive and profitable. He sees the MJA3 project as the most vital chain project to achieve this so far.

More info:

Circular Economy Lab 8: The Value of Plastics

“How can we turn plastic waste into a valuable recycling stream and increase the use of recycled plastic as raw material for products and packaging?”

This was central question in the Circular Economy Lab on the value of plastics organized by Jacqueline Cramer, director of the Utrecht Sustainability Institute in cooperation with the Dutch Federation of Rubber and Plastics Industry and PlasticsEurope. The lab took place on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 at the University of Utrecht.

Chain Collaboration for the value of plastics

A panel discussed the possibilities for increasing the use of recycled plastics in products and packaging. On the panel: Eelco Smit (Director Sustainability Philips), Gerard Nijssen (Nijssen Recycling), Mary Westerbos (Plastic Soup Foundation) and Siem Haffmans (Partners for Innovation).

They argued that this will only work if all parties cooperate well. From the design of products and packaging, to improving collection and recycling, to effective application of recycled plastics in high quality products. In this way, we can avoid plastics to become part of the plastic soup.

Circular Economy Lab 8: The Value of Plastics

How do we make a valuable recycling stream of plastic waste and increase the use of recycled plastics as raw materials for products and packaging?

This is the central questions for the Circular Economy Lab that will take place on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in Utrecht. The lab is organized by the Utrecht Sustainability Institute in cooperation with the Dutch Rubber and Plastics Federation and PlasticsEurope.

The evening is led by Jacqueline Cramer, director of the Utrecht Sustainability Institute. Siem Haffmans from Partners for Innovation will participate in the panel discussion about opportunities and increased usage of recycled plastics in products and packaging.

The purpose of the lab is to create a valuable business case for the collection of plastic while increasing the use of recycled plastics as raw materials and recycling.

More info:

  • Contact Siem Haffmans
  • Date: Tuesday evening, December 2, 2014 from 7:30 till 10 PM
  • Location: Academy Building University of Utrecht, Domplein 29, Utrecht
  • Language: Dutch 
  • Program & Registration 

Column: Chain Agreement Recyled Plastic

Netherlands is one of the leaders in Europe in the recycling of plastics. In package recycling the Netherlands is even nr. 1. Nevertheless, there are still significant challenges to increase the application of recycled plastics. Approximately 60% of our post-consumer plastic is still burned (with energy recovery). A small – but still too large – part, ends up as litter in the environment.

The Chain Agreement Recycled Plastic – with the Dutch government in the role of chain manager – can be the game changer. The frontrunners are already well under way. If they lead by example, this initiative may become very successful, argues Emiel Hanekamp in Environmental Magazine.

Sustainable Plastic Products for Automotive

Through smart applications of plastic and rubber, the automotive sector can reduce its environmental impact during its lifecycle significantly. Lighter parts and function integration will reduce environmental impacts and increase energy efficiency in the value chain.

Sustainable Plastic Products
“Sustainable applications of Plastic and Rubber for the Automotive Industry” is an initiative of the Federation of Dutch Plastic and Rubber Industry (NRK), the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Partners for Innovation. Participating companies are: DAF Trucks, Inalfa Roof Systems, Sabic, Voestalpine, Apollo Vredestein, Helvoet, Berco, VDL Parree, NPSP en LEEV Mobility.

In this project the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and their suppliers explore the opportunities for reduced environmental impact and energy efficiency of their product in the supply chain. They also learn that the greatest gain is how to improve product design to provide added value for themselves and for their customers.

Partners for Innovation facilitated a series of workshops in which companies in the automotive industry defined concrete chain projects together with their clients. Over the past two years, the “Sustainable Plastic Product” project has been very successful and received high satisfaction scores from participants of various industrial sectors.

More info: