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BASF's team introduced the highlights of the company to the media at a pre-K press conference.
BASF's team introduced the highlights of the company to the media at a pre-K press conference.

More and more companies from the plastics industry are working on improving the recyclability of plastics and thus helping to create a circular economy.

With the ChemCycling project, BASF is aiming to process pyrolysis oil derived from plastic waste that currently cannot be recycled, such as mixed or contaminated plastics.

If the company is successful in developing the project to market readiness, ChemCycling will be an innovative complement to existing processes for recycling and recovery to solve the plastic waste problem.

The significant potential of chemical recycling was confirmed by the consulting firm McKinsey in a December 2018 study: If established recycling processes are combined with new ones such as chemical recycling, the experts believe that a 50% reuse and recycling rate for plastics worldwide can be reached by 2030 (today: 16%). The share of chemical recycling could then rise from 1% currently to around 17%, which is equivalent to recycling of around 74 million metric tons of plastic waste.

At a press conference in advance of K 2019, four partners of BASF - Jaguar Land Rover, Storopack, Südpack and Schneider Electric, have showcased the first prototypes that were created during the pilot phase of the project.

Plastic front-end carrier prototype using Ultramid

Jaguar Land Rover developed a plastic front-end carrier prototype for its first electric SUV, the I-Pace.Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), a leading automotive manufacturer, developed a plastic front-end carrier prototype for its first electric SUV, the I-Pace, out of Ultramid B3WG6 Ccycled Black 00564.

“As part of our commitment to accelerate closed loop manufacturing across our operations, we are always looking for advances in technology that will help to reduce waste,” said Craig Woodburn, Global Environmental Compliance Manager at JLR. “The ability to convert consumer waste into safe, quality parts for premium products through the ChemCycling process is an important step in advancing our ambition to deliver a zero-waste future.”

Insulation packaging using Styropor

Boxes for transporting fresh fish.Storopack, a globally active supplier of protective packaging and technical molded parts, used Styropor P Ccycled to make insulation packaging for temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products as well as boxes for transporting fresh fish and protective packaging for electronic devices.

“We were particularly impressed by the fact that Styropor P Ccycled can be used in food packaging. There are already various recycling options for Styropor, and ChemCycling helps raise the recycling share even further,” said Storopack’s Chairman of the Management Board, Hermann Reichenecker. Storopack and BASF are thus forging a new path in the circular economy.

Recyclable film packaging

Südpack produced a polyamide film and a polyethylene film that were processed into specially sealed packaging for mozzarella.Südpack, a leading producer of film packaging in Europe, produced a polyamide film and a polyethylene film that were processed into specially sealed packaging for mozzarella. Until now, multi-layer packaging has usually been considered to be only recyclable to a limited extent.

“Film packaging must fulfill important roles: product protection, hygiene and shelf life while using a minimum amount of plastics. That is why it is made up of several materials and layers with various properties and barriers. Through innovations such as ChemCycling we come closer to solving the problems associated with recycling of flexible packaging,” said Johannes Remmele, Managing Partner of Südpack.

The certified products are indicated with the addition of “Ccycled” to their name. The prototypes presented at the press conference are part of the ongoing pilot phase of the ChemCycling project.

Technological, economic and regulatory challenges

To move from the pilot phase to market roll-out, however, various issues will need to be resolved. The existing technologies for transforming waste plastics into recycled raw materials must be advanced and adapted for the use at industrial scale, in order to ensure the consistently high quality of the pyrolysis oil.

BASF is currently investigating various options for supplying the company’s Production Verbund with commercial volumes of pyrolysis oil in the long term. Besides the technical issues, economic aspects also play a role.

For chemical recycling to find acceptance in the market, regulators must also recognize the process officially as recycling. Within this framework, they have to define how chemical recycling and mass balance approaches can be included in the calculation of recycling rates required by law.

Responsible use of resources

Besides ChemCycling, BASF is involved in many other projects and initiatives that strengthen the idea of the circular economy and prevent plastics from entering the environment.

For example, BASF’s product portfolio includes ecovio, a certified compostable plastic partly based on renewable raw materials.

The company is a member of the World Plastics Council and takes part in two Ellen MacArthur Foundation programs. At all of its sites worldwide, BASF implements “Operation Clean Sweep,” an international initiative of the plastics industry aimed at preventing the loss of plastic pellets into the environment.

Furthermore, at the beginning of 2019, BASF joined forces with around 30 other companies to found the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). In the coming five years, this initiative wants to invest up to $1.5 billion in various projects and partnerships, mainly in Asia and Africa.

New products to be launched

Ultradur - one fits all

Ultradur B6551 LNI - a perfect material for extrusion and for applications like pipes, profiles and mandrels.On the occasion of this year’s K fair, BASF will launch and present its new product Ultradur B6551 LNI for extrusion and thermoformable PBT Ultradur B6560 M2 FC TF.

Both new grades combine all the well-known characteristics of the Ultradur family like high melting point, low water uptake, high dimensional stability and good barrier properties. Though, up to now the melt strength of PBT was not sufficient to make it a preferred product for extrusion.

By connecting and branching the polymer chains via tailor-made additives the experts of BASF gained a very high melt strength. This makes the Ultradur B6551 LNI the perfect material for pipes, profiles and mandrels – and the Ultradur B6560 M2 FC TF the material of choice for extrusion of films and thermoforming of packaging or technical parts.

Innovations from Colors & Effects pigments

BASF will present innovation highlights from its broad range of Colors & Effects pigments for plastic applications at the K trade fair. The new product launches include two new Lumina Royal effect pigments, Microlen Piano Black, and a black and red addition to the Sicopal product line, which are especially recommended for recycling materials and demanding applications.

Featuring these latest innovations as well as other key pigment chemistries, BASF’s Colors and Effects brand will reveal a Color Collection inspired by Pantone. Comprised of three palettes with seven colors each, the collection will highlight current consumer trends and address how pigments can meet the plastic industry’s versatile colorant requirements with safe, reliable and brilliant performance.

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