Specialty chemicals company Lanxess aims to increase use of recycled raw materials in producing its thermoplastic compounds and composites. It has introduced three new polyamide 6 compounds utilising recycled fibres manufactured from waste glass. Recycled fibres make up 30 per cent, 35 per cent and 60 per cent by weight of these new 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,” explains Dr. Guenter Margraf, global product manager at the company’s High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit.
Durethan EcoBKV30H2.0, EcoBKV35H2.0 and EcoBKV60XF are the most recent examples of products made in line with this strategy. Recycled fibres manufactured from waste glass make up 30 per cent, 35 per cent and 60 per cent by weight respectively of these three new polyamide 6 compounds. 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 glass comes from waste left over from glass fibre production (post-industrial recycling).
HPM’s primary target for the three new compounds is the automotive industry. As Margraf explains, “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.”
HPM is going to be gradually increasing the number of Eco product types certified in accordance with the mass balance method. It is planning to launch a new polyamide 6 with a glass fibre content of 30 per cent and a reduced carbon footprint. The caprolactam required to produce this more environmentally friendly polyamide 6 is based on a selection of petrochemical raw materials which support this concern.
HPM is not currently using waste glass fibres from end-of-life components (known as post-consumer recycling), but does view them as a particularly sustainable raw material for use in manufacturing new glass fibres. These do offer similar benefits as the domestic collection and recycling of glass containers, which have been practiced successfully for quite some time. Waste glass melts at lower temperatures than the raw materials used in manufacturing glass fibres. It therefore makes it possible to save energy and thus lower carbon dioxide emissions. “Using waste glass cuts down on the use of resources as well, because it saves glass raw materials,” says Margraf. “It also means there’s no need to dispose of the waste glass.”