Specialty chemicals company Lanxess is increasingly moving toward the use of recycled raw materials in the production of its thermoplastic compounds and composites. One of the most recent examples is the use of post-industrial recycled fibres made from glass waste from glass fibre production.
Waste glass melts at lower temperatures than the raw materials used in manufacturing glass fibres, which makes it possible to save energy and to achieve lower CO2 emissions.
“Using waste glass cuts down on the use of resources as well, because it saves glass raw materials,” explained Dr. Guenter Margraf, global product manager at the company’s High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit.argraf. “It also means there’s no need to dispose of the waste glass.”
Lanxess has incorporated recycled glass fibres into its new Durethan ECO polyamide family of products. The fibres make up 30%, 35% and 60% by weight respectively of the three new PA6 compounds.
“We want to help make the switch from a throw-away society to a circular economy. Our goal is to make more and more of our plastic products sustainable so that we can make our growth less dependent on the consumption of finite resources, improve our carbon footprint and protect the environment,” said Margraf.
Ecocycle, an independent inspection company, has examined the amount of recycled material in each compound and the long-term use of the glass waste stream using the mass balance method and awarded an ecoloop certificate in accordance with ISO 14021:2016.
The mass balance approach is derived from an initiative launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and is employed by companies around the world, including a number of plastic producers, for chemical recycling of post-industrial and post-consumer waste. With this process, recycled raw materials are incorporated into production together with the petrochemical or mineral feedstocks commonly used otherwise and then arithmetically allocated to the end product.
Using the mass balance approach, says Lanxess, results in a product with properties identical to those of virgin quality material.
“That means that an injection moulder can process the compound using existing facilities just like the conventional product – and enjoy the sustainability benefits of the certified product at the same time,” said Margraf.
The initial applications targeted with the three new compounds are components for the automotive industry.
“For instance, Durethan ECOBKV60XF offers exceptional strength and rigidity, which makes it suitable for manufacturing structural components such as front ends, pedal bearing brackets and A-, B- and C-pillars, as well as lightweight battery trays for electric vehicles, ” said Margraf.
Lanxess’ High Performance materials business unit is currently also working on the development of a PA6 with a reduced carbon footprint. The caprolactam required to produce this more environmentally friendly PA6 is based on a selection of petrochemical raw materials which support this concern.