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3D-printed pavilion from recycled PET

We are happy to share this article of an unbelievable project with rPET. IMd Consulting Engineers has given the go-ahead for the printing of the very first 3D-printed pavilion, made entirely from recycled PET bottles. After years of material research in collaboration with TU Delft, it is the first time that this polyester plastic is used constructively.

Impression of the pavilion. (Photo: IMd)

With some delay, due to the corona crisis, the pavilion will be presented in Rotterdam somewhere in 2021. It marks the start of an experiment.

The building is not a target itself, but part of an investigation into the material and its possibilities. How long will the structure keep its shape? Is there an architectural future for this material? When the structure loses its shape or strength over time, the material will simply be reused.

The idea for the pavilion was born in 2019 and was further developed. A search for the right concept and material led to the plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is printable and recyclable.

From the start of this ambitious plan, IMd has been working closely with Ector Hoogstad Architecten for the architecture of the building. TU Delft conducted research into material properties such as load-bearing capacity and acoustics. With the pavilion, IMd shows that PET can be easily reused and also has structural properties. The structure consists of various shell parts, each weighing about 300 kilos. The shape of the pavilion is a derivative of the material properties. The material is self-supporting and has a slender shell that is partly hollow to reduce weight. The complex, organic shape that it produces is easy to print, making the pavilion a combination of material properties and production technology and will soon be a model of innovation, sustainability and reuse.

The Spanish company Nagami started the printing process for the building in early 2020. A printing process of four consecutive months was required to realize the building. That process started in January 2020, but was delayed due to Covid-19. The printing process has now resumed.

We will keep you informed about the end-result.

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Take it or leave it : Increased prices and delays

Chaos in container shipping!

Container shipping costs have jumped drastically along some routes as the coronavirus pandemic remaps traditional trading patterns and issues at European ports. Add the delays in the region and you’ll understand our worries. Read the highlights of the market impact, disruption, congestion and container shipping alliances in article by Tom Brown of ICIS.

Source: ITF based on Alphaliner, Shanghai Shipping Exchange.

The recovery of multiple key Asian markets from the pandemic, relative to the ongoing struggles faced in the west, has led to a surge in exports from the region to the rest of the world, with less product going back the other way.

The shift in demand patterns has led to containers returning empty to Asia as demand for exports from the region significantly outstripped demand for imports, increasing costs and lead times for orders.

Shipping lines cut capacity drastically during the first wave of pandemic-related lockdowns, and have failed to boost it sufficiently as demand bounced back.

Container availability has been disrupted by too many full containers being stuck in distribution chains west of Suez or in congested ports of entry, with logistics slowed down because of manpower shortages related to coronavirus lockdowns.

MARKET IMPACT

Normally freight costs are around $1,500 for a 20ft container. Now you talk about $5,000. It changes every week! The extent of demand has led to shortages in Asia, with shipping firms going so far as to send additional empty containers to the region just to alleviate some of the pressure.

Sources spoke of shipping freight rates for dry cargo rising three- or four-fold, and lead times dragging from six weeks to eight, at a point where demand patterns are extremely difficult to determine due to the trading volatility seen in the market outlook.

Lockdown measures in many European countries are creating additional headaches for the shipping sector, Some sources report the use of smaller vessels to cut down on mooring fees but resulting in reduced vessel space, and shipper terms changing fast.

All the Asian countries are producing and exporting and not importing, because of Covid etcetera.

Shipping lines are saying they can’t respect their contracts. They say: pay or we won’t ship!

DISRUPTION TO PERSIST INTO 2021
Some Asia sources have expressed expectations that freight container tightness in the region is likely to persist until February 2021.

The Chinese say it will last until March or April 2021, then the cycle of containers should go back to normal.

PORT CONGESTION
Trade disruptions, bulk orders of medical equipment by governments and geopolitical issues such as the UK’s imminent expected departure from the EU customs union, is also causing congestion at ports and storage issues.

Other key European ports have also had issues, with Rotterdam suffering from delays to arrivals and discharges of shipments due to issues with a new IT system.

The practicalities of operating during the pandemic are also exacerbating delays at European ports, with additional health and safety checks, furloughing, and social distancing also slowing the speed that product moves through the ports.

Lockdowns are expected to ease in most European countries but, with the virus still circulating at high rates and restrictions expected to be temporarily eased for a spell over the Christmas break, controls on contact and the potential for staff shortages from illness remain high.

The issues mean that, while supply chains are largely continuing to hold and orders continue to be met, logistics issues are likely to continue exacerbating demand opacity, economic volatility and shifts among buyers to more hand to mouth purchasing habits, making for a treacherous landscape for firms through to the new year.

CONTAINER SHIPPING ALLIANCES
Although shipping cartels were outlawed in 2004, shippers are permitted to operate in alliances to optimize use of shipping space.

The OECD’s International Transport Forum claims that links between these consortia mean a large majority of trade routes to and from Europe are operated by one conglomeration of these groups.

It is concerned that too much information may be shared on volumes, costs and pricing.

The container sector is a lot less fragmented compared to a few years ago. Now the top five owners are controlling close to 65% of capacity.

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Textile recycled into clear bottles!

November 19, 2020

The latest recycling milestone brings new value to an otherwise waste-destined 42 million tons of polyester textiles produced annually. Read the astonishing article below.

Photo credit: Carbios

CARBIOS a company pioneering new enzymatic solutions to reinvent the lifecycle of plastic and textile polymers, today announced it has successfully produced the first bottles containing 100% recycled Purified Terephthalic Acid (rPTA) from textile waste that contains a high PET content. This result confirms the capacity of Carbios’ technology to recycle textile waste and opens up access to an additional waste stream of up to 42 million tons per year, worth over $ 40 billion.

Currently, mechanical recycling technologies do not enable clothing waste to be recycled efficiently. The few textiles that can be reused, are incorporated into lower quality applications such as padding, insulators or rags. This process is called “downcycling”.

In contrast, the breakthrough developed by Carbios enables polyester textile fibers to be “upcycled” in a high quality grade of PET suitable for the production of clear bottles.

Transparent bottles can be produced from polyester textile waste or from post-consumer colored bottles. But it works both ways – also a t-shirt can be made from bottles or disposable food trays. They succeeded in producing PET fibers for textile applications with 100% rPTA, from enzymatically recycled PET plastic waste.

Carbios’ process enables low-value waste to be recovered and to have a new life in more challenging applications – in short, it facilitates infinite recycling of PET-based plastics and textiles. This innovative enzymatic waste recycling technology is fully in line with European objectives of creating a circular economy and strengthening environmental protection.

Here you can read the whole article.

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Travel in style. With a suitcase made of RPET!

“The most eco-friendly suitcases in the world!” A revolutionary development by Princess Traveller.

Another good example what can be done with recycled PET (or recycled plastic in common).

Travel in style!

It is the first suitcase brand in the world, that has developed a series of suitcases made from recycled PET material; The Green Collection. Where earlier in suitcases only the fabric inner lining were made of recycled PET, Princess Traveller has taken it a big step further. Not only the inner lining, but the full hardcase itself and the zippers are made from recycled PET material.

Also the hangtags and shipping carton are made of environmentally friendly craft paper.

Recycled-Sustainable-Circular Economy!

So I suppose, as travelling is an option within the corona restrictions, the whole recycling community will travel in style 😉.

For more details or if you want to order a suitcase, check their website or LinkedIn.

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“Change is the end result of all true learning.”

We would like to share some good news within these dark and distressing times, ruled by Covid-19.

From “V!ve l’initiative”, one of the goals we support, we received a blog about the summer school they organized. Due to covid-19 measurements schools shut down for a couple of months. Having the summer school in place the kids could catch up with their knowledge about English, French, Math, Physics and Computer Science.

See also the blog (in Dutch) about this summer school:

Nowadays kids are going to school again and Covid-19 is a ‘minor issue’ in Burkina. There is no outbreak at the moment. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it stays that way!

Find out more about V!ve l’initiative: https://www.vive-initiative.nl/who-are-we/

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Is Ocean Bound Plastic a new profitable market?

Or just an accelerator in professionalizing the branch?

The questions to be answered:

Are you willing to pay more for rPET if it’s been labeled as Ocean Bound Plastic ?

And what if some of the rPET doesn’t apply to the definition ?

Will traceability and certification be standard in a quality program ?

The term Ocean Bound plastics leads in almost every case back to Jenna Jambeck. The definition of Ocean-bound plastic was defined and published in Science in 2015:

  • [Waste plastic] found within 50km distance of an ocean coastline or major waterway that feeds into the ocean
  • The country or region lacks waste management infrastructure and collection incentives
  • The infrastructure is being overwhelmed by population growth or tourism
  • There is a significant risk to wildlife if plastic contaminates their ecosystem.

Nowadays companies are offering ocean-bound plastic as an alternative option anduse her definition as a basis for their marketing activities and corporate social responsibility programs. Most of the companies made their own interpretation of the definition and changed or added specifications!

Needless to say that collecting these plastics before they reach oceans is a useful initiative. It is also easier and cheaper than once they have drowned in the bottom of oceans or are dispersed as a soup of micro particles. It is commonly admitted that 80% of plastic in the seas, comes from land.

Using the definition of OBP will introduce the aspect of traceability. It gives converters, buyers, manufacturers and consumers a better insight in the origins of the material next to a better feeling for consumers that they are doing the right thing! Plastic waste and pollution originate from several different sources. Besides Ocean Bound Plastic, also plastic is collected as a by-product of production and manufacturing, in streams, rivers flowing to the ocean, material washed up on coasts and of course in the ocean itself.

Defined areas with plastic waste

Local communities in at-risk areas where plastic will end up in the oceans will profit from the term Ocean Bound Plastic. They will be incentivized to collect, sort and process plastic waste into high-quality recycled material. Also consumers with the option to purchase products packaged in recycled material that has been proven to come from at-risk regions of the world will feel good to contribute to the reduction of waste and pollution.

The same consumers will ask for traceability and preferably a third party certification to be sure they bought the right, more expensive, goods. But can traceability be 100% guaranteed and what will be the consequences for communities and initiatives outside of the area defined for Ocean Bound Plastic ?

The process of making it traceable and also certified makes the branch more professional and helps to achieve quality standards. It also contributes to a better awareness of our worldwide problem with waste and pollution. But these initiatives in the process also make the material more expensive. The questions I have:

  • Are you as a buyer, manufacturer, consumer willing to pay more knowing where the material, with the same quality, is coming from?
  • Do you mind if a part of the recycled material is not applying to the ocean bound plastic definition?
  • Will traceability and certification (more than a CoO or Form A) be standard in the future for any recycled material?

In essence, we should pay more for material from an at-risk area because we prevented the material from entering the ocean. However, the converters and traders are under pressure from brands that want them to supply recycled content at the lowest possible price. It will be a financially challenging situation for recyclers.

Let’s find it out together! Dutch PET Recycling is also working with suppliers offering Ocean Bound Plastic.

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EU agrees tax on plastic packaging waste

EU leaders have struck a deal on a landmark corona virus recovery package that will involve the European Commission undertaking massive borrowing on the capital markets. Part of this deal is a tax on plastic packaging wastes. Finally good news for the plastic recycling industry!

Read the whole story: By Stefan Baumgarten, 21-Jul-20 17:11

LONDON (ICIS), As part of their €750bn coronavirus pandemic recovery package, EU leaders agreed on a new EU tax on plastic packaging wastes.

The tax, to be introduced as of 1 January 2021, will be calculated on the weight of nonrecycled plastic packaging waste “with a call rate of €0.80/kilogramme with a mechanism to avoid excessively regressive impact on national contributions.” Proceeds from the tax will go to the EU.

German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) welcomed the tax, saying it was long overdue. However, DUH said that the tax rate was “too timid”. “We need a price that really causes a change in direction,” said DUH director general Jurgen Resch. “And we need regulations that, above all, end the littering of nature and cities with unnecessary disposable products, be it disposable plastic bottles, plastic bags or disposable coffee-to-go cups,” he said.

Also, instead of basing the tax on the weight of nonrecycled plastic packaging waste, it would be more effective to tax new, virgin primary plastics in packaging as soon as it is put into circulation, DUH said.

Trade group PlasticsEurope could not immediately be reached for comment. Last week, German chemical producers’ trade group VCI warned against the introduction of EU tax on plastics packaging waste that is not recycled. Legislative measures have driven firms throughout the petrochemical industry and the packaging sector to adopt increasingly ambitious sustainability targets which often go beyond EU mandated minimums.

Many plastic bottle manufacturers are targeting at least 50% recycled material by 2030, or shifting to other materials such as bio-based or non-plastic alternatives which often have a larger environmental impact than plastic because of higher energy usage, CO2 output and weight.

The recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) chain is perhaps the key example of the extent of the shortage of material because it is currently the most widely recycled plastic in Europe and has the most developed market and infrastructure, Victory said.

Despite a collection rate of 63% in 2018, the growth rate in collection has slowed at less than 3%/year. ICIS analysis shows to achieve the single-use plastic (SUP) target of 77% the annual growth rate needs to be 9%/year, and this does not even factor in the increasing contamination rates within the region. Cross contamination from other plastics and losses due to the mechanical process, has seen average wastage rates across Europe rise from 25% to around 30-35% according to market estimates.

Other sectors such as fibres and chemical recycling projects are increasingly seeking a higher share of postconsumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste.

Packaging producers using materials such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have also investigated a switch to other materials including PET because of the perception, caused by the headline collection rates, that R-PET material – particularly food-grade material – is in abundant supply.

An additional limit for the plastic bottle market is the lack of food-grade pellet (FGP) production, which currently stands at around 300,000 tonnes/year in Europe, or around 9% of overall PET plastic bottle demand. Coupled with this, to achieve European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval, 95% of the material used in reprocessing must have been sourced from food-contact applications, and there must be full and provable traceability throughout the chain.

For R-PET the major feedstock is used plastic drinks bottles, so reaching the 95% threshold is not currently a challenge. But for other recycled material where multiple forms of waste are collected in kerbside schemes, proving provenance of material to reach the 95% content threshold is prohibitive.

For recycled PE (R-PE), for example, the only post-consumer-derived source of food grade pellets is the UK where milk bottles provide an easily separated stream of waste.

The capacity for food grade R-PET is set to increase with limited projects coming on stream into 2021 yet investment is still required to grow capacity at the same rate as demand. FGP usage must triple on 2018 volumes to achieve the SUP 25% target, clearly a challenge for the industry given the pandemic and macroeconomics it faces.

Structural shortages of material, along with technical limitations such as opacity of material and loss of tensile strength, have led companies to explore other avenues for reaching sustainability commitments such as chemical recycling or bio-based materials.

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“Recycling is very good, reuse is even better.”

State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management in the Netherlands) starts a new offensive against packaging waste together with manufacturers. The aim is to reduce the use of packaging, to stimulate reuse of packaging and to improve the quality of collection and recycling.

It concerns the introduction of European rules, whereby Van Veldhoven goes one step further together with the packaging industry in the Netherlands. In addition to introducing the European recycling targets, it has agreed concrete circular targets with packaging companies up to and including 2025 by adding reuse to recycling. The Netherlands is the first European country to set circular objectives in this way.

Mindmap how to reach EU’s 25% targets in 2025

Read the full story (in Dutch):

Van Veldhoven start nieuw offensief tegen verpakkingsafval

Staatssecretaris Stientje van Veldhoven start samen met producenten een nieuw offensief tegen verpakkingsafval. Dit schrijft zij aan de Tweede Kamer. Doel hiervan is het gebruik van verpakkingen terug te dringen, hergebruik van verpakkingen te stimuleren en de kwaliteit van inzameling en recycling te verbeteren.

Het gaat om invoering van Europese regels, waarbij van Veldhoven samen met het verpakkend bedrijfsleven in Nederland nog een stap verder gaat. Naast het invoeren van de Europese recycle doelstellingen heeft zij tot en met 2025 concrete circulaire doelstellingen met het verpakkend bedrijfsleven afgesproken door hergebruik aan recycling toe te voegen. Nederland is het eerste Europese land dat op deze manier circulaire doelstellingen vastlegt.

Van Veldhoven: “Recyclen is goed, hergebruik is nóg beter. Het Nederlandse verpakkende bedrijfsleven behoort internationaal tot de koplopers in het slimmer omgaan met materialen en het besparen van CO2. Dit verdient een compliment. Samen werken we toe naar een schone, groene toekomst.”

Cees de Mol van Otterloo, directeur van het Afvalfonds Verpakkingen: “In Nederland realiseren we voor verpakkingen al hoge recycleresultaten. Met de nieuwe recycledoelstellingen wordt een nieuwe stip op de horizon gezet op weg naar een circulaire economie voor verpakkingen.”

Het gaat om nieuwe afspraken over recycling en hergebruik van glas, kunststof, papier en karton, metaal en hout. Het EU-recyclingdoel voor alle verpakkingen samen is zeventig procent voor 2030. Nederland haalt deze doelstelling in 2021 al en legt de lat hoger. In 2025 moet in Nederland 74 procent gerecycled en/of hergebruikt worden.

Eén van de maatregelen om dit doel te halen, is door het scheiden voor burgers eenvoudiger te maken. Met uitzondering van glas en oud-papier, horen straks alle lege verpakkingen bij het PMD (Plastic, Metaal en Drankkartons). De inzameling van glazen bierflesjes is en blijft een vrijwillig systeem. De laatste jaren doken echter steeds meer bierflesjes op zonder statiegeld. Door hergebruik mee te tellen, is er nu een prikkel voor producenten om statiegeld op deze flesjes te behouden en uit te bereiden.

Nederland is vooralsnog het enige Europese land dat, naast recycle doelstellingen, ook ambitieuze circulaire doelstellingen samen met het verpakkend bedrijfsleven heeft afgesproken. De Nederlandse circulaire -en Europese recycledoelen worden wettelijk vastgelegd en per 2021 ingevoerd. In 2025 wordt de werking van beide doelstellingen geëvalueerd.

Van Veldhoven: “We zijn als Nederland goed op weg, maar we willen toe naar alle verpakkingen recyclen en producenten stimuleren over te gaan tot hergebruik. Met deze circulaire doelstellingen zetten we een forse stap in de goede richting voor een schone, groene circulaire economie.”

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Is this the end of high-quality plastic recycling?

Also in Germany the recycling industry is demanding the government to take steps for a sustainable circular economy. Hopefully many countries will follow these initiatives and even more important: will governments take the necessary steps.

The article is from Der Grüne Punkt – 22. June 2020

The Green Dot (“Der Grüne Punkt”), Werner & Mertz and the German Association for the Waste, Water and Raw Materials Industries demand financial incentives and commitment from government.

Plastic waste in private households increased by 10 percent in recent months as the numbers of home offices and Internet orders went up and the demand for recyclates – recycled plastic from plastic waste – decreased dramatically. What appears at first glance to be a paradox can be attributed to one cause – oil prices.  The corona pandemic brought about a sharp fall in the price of oil. Cheap crude oil lowers the cost of producing new plastic and thus reinforces new plastic’s privileged legal status in Germany as it is exempt from petroleum tax and EEC levies. In comparison, the material recycling of used plastic packaging is economically even less attractive. Many manufacturers which previously used recyclates for products and packaging are now switching back to new goods.

That means not only substantial losses for the recycling industry and a giant step backwards for climate and environmental protection, but also a huge blow to the circular economy!   
Consumers long ago recognized the danger. Surveys show that consumers see plastic as the greatest (environmental) problem. They expect solutions in favor of a sustainable economy and that has not been changed by the coronavirus.

The solution to the plastic pollution of our environment has been known for some time. Used plastic from post-consumer waste collections like the German Yellow Bag can now be recycled at such a high quality that it fulfills strict requirements for use in cosmetic packaging. Plastic remains in a closed cycle, where it becomes valuable raw material instead of polluting waste.

The technology of material recycling, however, is still pushed aside because the use of new plastic is cheaper in comparison.   

That’s why three representatives along the supply chain have issued a joint statement in which they demand that the German government use the impending transformation of the economy to establish a sustainable circular economy in general and the reuse of recyclates from used plastic in particular.   

Peter Kurth, President of BDE (German Association for the Waste, Water and Raw Materials Industries), appeals to the role model function of public procurement for sustainable management: “The decline in oil prices intensified the already difficult circumstances for many plastic recyclers. Expensively produced recyclates find no takers, investments in better recycling are put off or cancelled because refinancing appears impossible. Given the lack of political action, plastic recycling is threatened with severe damage. Anyone who wants a successful, sustainable economy has to employ suitable instruments that have been known for a long time. An altered procurement process that takes ecological aspects seriously should be at the top of the agenda.”

Reinhard Schneider, owner of the cleaning products company Werner & Mertz and winner of the German Environmental Award 2019, provides concrete solutions to balance out the existing financial disadvantage between the use of post-consumer recyclates (PCR) and of new goods in Germany. “The ecological differential in the purchase prices could be incorporated in the Packaging Law in Paragraph 21 in the form of a fund to which all producers would have to contribute. Only those who use recyclates should receive reimbursement. Additionally, a plastic tax could be introduced which would apply only to new goods, something Italy plans to do. That corresponds to cutting the subsidies for the manufacture of new goods in that the exemption from mineral oil tax and EEC levies no longer apply. The debated minimum utilization rate makes sense only when combined with incentivization for exceeding the minimum rate.”

Michael Wiener, CEO of The Green Dot (“Der Grüne Punkt”), says specifically about minimum utilization rate: “The potential of the circular economy for climate protection, especially for plastic, has not yet been exhausted. We are missing out on the economic opportunities the circular economy offers. A circular economy that earns the name creates jobs and brings urgently needed added value into the European Union. Instead, we are experiencing a complete market failure. Recycled plastic saves up to 50 percent in greenhouse gas emissions generated by new plastic, but that is not reflected in the price. Politicians have to set defined recyclate utilization goals for certain product groups in order to promote the creation of sustainable recyclate markets and provide the necessary investment security. In July 2020 the federal government will take over the EU Council Presidency – a good opportunity to advance relevant measures.”

Summary: A stronger focus on sustainability in public procurement, a fund system, a new plastic tax for new goods and a clearly defined minimum rate for the use of recyclates combined with financial incentives are instruments that will save plastic recycling from extermination and, after the corona crisis, will ensure a stable, sustainable circular economy as an important contribution to climate protection.   

The article addressing the same message in German language!
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Green Recovery Statement

Ruim 200 bedrijven hebben het Green Recovery Statement getekend, en Dutch PET Recycling is daar één van. Gezamenlijk pleiten we er voor om duurzaamheid als hoeksteen te nemen voor de corona-herstelplannen. 

Goed om te zien dat meer bedrijven duurzamer willen gaan ondernemen en pleiten voor een groen en sociaal herstel. Dit doen wij, en alle partners uit het netwerk van MVO Nederland natuurlijk al jaren. En dat is nodig, want slechts 12,1 procent van de economie is nu duurzaam. Samen bereiken we meer! 

Nieuwe Economie Index

In English:

More than 200 companies have signed the Green Recovery Statement, and Dutch PET Recycling is one of them. Together we argue in favor of taking sustainability as the cornerstone of the corona recovery plans.

It is good to see that more companies want to do business in a more sustainable way and that they advocate a green and social recovery. We, and all partners from the MVO Nederland network, have been doing this for years. And that is necessary, because only 12.1 percent of the economy is now sustainable. Together we achieve more!