Netherlands-based Senbis has announced it will be investing a total of €5.5 million through its new subsidiary, SPIC Facilities BV, in a testing facility for the development of sustainable plastics and products.
SPIC Facilities is part of SPIC - Sustainable Polymer Innovation Cluster – Emmen, a cluster of companies and universities in the northern part of the Netherlands offering polymer development and production facilities to promote innovation. It constitutes the plastics cluster in Chemport Europe, which is one of the leading ecosystems for biobased chemistry.
Via SPIC Facilities, Senbis, which offers R&D services and is a producer of sustainable polymers, is spending some €4 million on new equipment, according to the company’s director, Gerard Nijhoving.
"We will be acquiring an impressive range of machinery that will make successive polymer production processes available at different scales: from grams and kilograms to full truck loads,” he said.
He explained that SPIC Facilities would fill the existing gaps for (bio)polymer development in the Chemport Europe ecosystem.
“The investments include new reactors for polycondensation, for example for developing (bio)polyesters and polyamides, a fully equipped compounder, a new line for the production of technical mono-filaments and an expansion of analytical capabilities,” he said.
Spinning lines for multifilament and monofilament spinning and drawing will also be included, for the manufacture of bicomponent yarns. “The new lines now enable us to develop textile fibres from e.g. recycled polymers or biopolymers,” said Nijhoving.
SPIC Facilities will also be equipped with 3D printing facilities, as filaments and powders will be another area of development.
The cluster in Emmen stands out, said Nijhoving, for the wide range of R&D and production facilities at a single location.
As a result: “Our research is pragmatic, flexible, fast and with an industrial focus.”
In addition, he noted, Emmen has built up expertise in polyesters.
“We have the knowledge required for their development and upscaling, and for subsequently manufacturing fibres, films, injection moulded parts, preforms, and bottles,” he explained.
The cluster is also working on the mechanical and chemical recycling of polyester.
“This means that we are able to look after the entire polyester chain in Emmen – cradle to cradle. This polyester expertise is also interesting for partners working on new biopolymers, because these generally consist of polyester structures,” he pointed out.
Orders for the first machines have been placed, with installation scheduled for later this year, and next year. And, although in the light of the current economic situation and the pandemic Senbis at first hesitated, it ultimately decided to go ahead with the investment.
“We are convinced that the sustainability trend, which only just started in the plastics sector, will only grow stronger in the coming years," declared Nijhoving. "Over the coming years, a lot more has to be invested in recycling as well as in biobased and biodegradable plastics. That awareness will continue to grow among consumers, governments, industry and companies. I am confident that the facilities will be much appreciated in the future in order to achieve this ambition.”
SPIC Facilities received funding from VoordeGroei BV, MKB Fonds Drenthe, and the Senbis shareholders, as well as government grants by the Dutch SNN (via European Regional Development Fund), the Province of Drenthe and the City of Emmen.