Green materials: Eastman/partners demo closed-loop recycling of mixed auto waste; Covestro expands PC range with 90% PCR content for Asian market

Eastman/partners demo closed-loop recycling of mixed auto waste

US materials firm Eastman Chemical Co. says it has successfully completed the closed-loop recycling project for automotive mixed plastic waste. Through a collaborative effort, Eastman, the United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC (USAMP), automotive recycler PADNOS and automotive interior supplier Yanfeng, demonstrated first of its kind plastic recycling from the by-product of shredding end-of-life vehicles.

When vehicles are at the end of their life, metals, tyres and glass account for 80%-90% of the materials that can be recycled through traditional mechanical recycling streams. The other 10%-20%, referred to as automotive shredder residue (ASR), consists of mixed plastic and other non-recycled materials that currently end up in landfills or are recovered through waste-to-energy technologies.

Under this initiative, PADNOS supplied a plastic-rich fraction of ASR as a sustainable feedstock to Eastman’s carbon renewal technology (CRT). Eastman successfully demonstrated addition and conversion of that ASR feedstock into a synthesis gas (syngas) which is subsequently used downstream in the production of its polyester and cellulosic thermoplastics. Resins from this production process were further formulated and then supplied to Yanfeng.

The parts moulded by Yanfeng for demonstration were successfully tested to meet a variety of OEM – Ford, GM, and Stellantis – requirements, thereby demonstrating proof of concept for a truly circular solution.

The study proved feasibility of Eastman’s CRT process, one of Eastman’s two molecular recycling technologies, which breaks down the plastic-rich ASR into molecular building blocks. By recycling these complex plastics in CRT, Eastman can replace fossil-based feedstock and create polymers without compromising performance for use in new automotive applications.

In addition to diverting waste from landfills, USAMP, a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR) also sees the potential for energy savings and reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Kari Bliss, principal of sustainability at PADNOS said, “The collaboration on this project is indicative of the work that is needed to create closed-loop and circular economy solutions. Our purpose statement is on full display with this project — to continue to find ways to innovate, lead and make a positive impact in this world. We are proud to be the mechanical recycler involved in this complex endeavour, which is the first of its kind in North America.”

Covestro expands PC range with 90% PCR content for Asian market

In other news, hot on the trend of sustainable plastics, especially those with increasing proportions of recycled material or biomass and consequently a lower carbon footprint, German materials firm Covestro now offers a polycarbonate (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 polycarbonate 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.

This type of plastic is said to achieve “exceptional” whiteness and highly saturated colours, which is typically a challenge for PCR plastics with high recycled content. This is made possible by selecting high-quality recyclates and optimising the material composition during the compounding process, Covestro says.

The PCR grade is manufactured with halogen-free flame retardants 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 footprint2 compared to its conventional fossil-based counterpart, but still meets performance requirements well.

To meet rising demand, Covestro is currently building a dedicated compounding plant for PCR polycarbonates at its integrated site in Shanghai. Once commissioned, which is scheduled for later this year, it will be able to supply more than 25,000 tonnes/year PCR polycarbonates.

In addition to PCR grades produced through mechanical recycling, Covestro says it is also making progress with PCs attributed with raw materials produced using a mass balance approach derived from bio waste and residual materials and certified to the internationally recognised ISCC PLUS standard.

The company now regularly supplies Makrolon RE polycarbonates with a renewable attributed raw material content of up to 89%. Selected products, including climate-neutral PCs, are supplied with 100% renewable electricity under a TÜV-certified system.

Already at the end of 2021, Covestro supplied customers in Europe with the world's first climate-neutral PCs.


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