Since its founding in 2016, Interface Polymers has worked to commercialise new technology to tackle the surface and polymer matrix compatibility issues in incompatible polymer blends. In just a few years, the company has produced a number of solutions. Based on its patented di-block copolymer Polarfin additive technology, additives for use with virgin and recycled polyethylene- and polypropylene-based masterbatches, compounds, filled polymers, and sheet and film products have been successfully developed. Compatibilization products are increasingly being used to enhance product performance, improve processing, reduce costs and solve recycling challenges for a variety of plastic applications in the packaging, construction, agriculture and automotive market sectors.
More recently, Interface Polymers has been working closely with a number of companies across the supply chain, aiming to find ways to utilise mixed plastic waste, such as PE and PP with EVOH/ PA/ PET/PS, rather than simply burning or consigning these to landfill.
As a result of these efforts, the company has now secured a Letter of Intent (LOI) agreement and a Proof of Concept (POC) project commitment with leading industry players.
The LOI agreement is with a company that manufactures synthetic fibres and textile fabric products for industrial and domestic applications, which is looking to incorporate a PE/PP waste stream into a polar polymer for use in a wide variety of commercial and domestic textile products. The fabric producer has been evaluating various recycling options, but up to now all other additives tested were unable to be processed. By adding Interface Polymers’ novel Polarfin di-block technology, the technical issues are being overcome. Ongoing trials are proving that PE/PP mixed waste can be efficiently reprocessed on existing equipment and recycled or even upcycled into higher-value products.
The POC feasibility project is with a producer of multilayer plastic packaging film seeking to recycle multilayer plastic film from packaging applications back into multilayer film without significant loss of properties. The Polarfin additive, even at low addition levels, has been shown in trials to eliminate gels, which are visual defects which also disrupt production and reduce productivity. Gels are a very common problem for polyolefin films using recyclable mixed plastics, which up to now has restricted their recyclability.
Both projects are focused on developing viable PE and PP products formulated with Polarfin additive which utilise currently unrecyclable mixed plastic packaging waste; a key aim is to create new products with at least 30% recycled content. Once commercialised, these projects will provide both companies with a greener product offering that will be more acceptable to manufacturers, retailers and consumers actively wanting to use more sustainable materials.
Global sales of polyolefins are over $200 billion per annum and the addressable market for the technology is estimated to be at least $2 billion. The company has benefited from two Innovate UK grants totalling more than £1m and has attracted a total of £2.7m in private equity funding.