While plastic has been described as the 'success story of the 20th century', this is often lost sight of in the course of the plastics-bashing discussions taking place today.
These concerns about marine debris and plastic litter are perfectly legitimate. Every year, about 200-million tonnes are disposed of in landfills and about eight million tons leak into the oceans.
As Richard Haldimann, head of innovation excellence and business incubator said, speaking at the recent EMG pre-K event in Antwerp put it: “Leakage is a large problem – a 9bn tonne problem, to be precise, the amount of plastic produced since the 1950s. What a waste!”
In response, Clariant is now seeking to create a “Symphony of Collaboration” in recognition of the fact that regulators, industry and society have a responsibility to work more closely to drive design for, and innovation in, the reduction, reuse and recycling of plastics.
At K 2019, Clariant will highlight various collaborative sustainability projects and the products behind them, supporting the development of solutions that will be adopted in the market. This includes the launch of a major new company-wide initiative specifically focused on plastics' recycling.
"It is a cross-unit platform inside Clariant," said Haldimann, "built on three pillars: the development of product and system solutions for recycling; partnerships with players across the recycling ecosystem to draw on different perspectives and develop new solutions; expertise, bringing together experts from throughout the company. This will enable us to provide a holistic solution to deliver to the companies collaborating with us."
Already, one important partnership - with the Finnish oil refining company, Neste - in which fat residues and discarded cooking oils are given a second life, has delivered some breakthrough results.
More will be revealed at K, including new products for plastic applications based on mass-balance certification for the usage of renewable polyolefins, said Haldimann.
Bernd Högemann, senior vice President and general manager, BU Masterbatches at Clariant talked about Clariant’s new developments in that area, including a range of new NIR-detectable black colourants can be used for various polymers (e.g. polyolefins, PET, PA) mainly in applications such as packaging and E&E, thus promoting the recyclability of these products. In addition, the company will be launching new odour control masterbatch solution based on encapsulation technology, aimed at eliminating odour issues in recycled materials.
And at K 2019, Clariant will launch its new patented oxygen scavenger based on a new molecule that goes beyond existing solutions for PET. It has proven highly successful in preliminary customer trials, said Högemann. “As a new oxygen barrier solution, it can address a number of challenges, including organoleptic effects of PET on the contents of the bottle.”
Clariant is also developing an automated colouration system, which will adjust the colour variations, depending on the degree of discoloration, said Edward Gallagher, Head of Marketing at Business Unit Pigments in his presentation. “We are working with a colour-matching software provider to enable fast and reliable colour matching of recycled material. We will be announcing more at K.”