We would like to share some thoughts within the chemical industry on plastic recycling. It is based on an article of Joseph Chang from ICIS.
The chemical industry must accelerate investment in plastics recycling to achieve scale as activist and government pressure mounts. The pace of change is too slow. The industry has to move a lot faster before society looks to the producers as the problem and who have to fix it.
There is no technical challenge. Thermodynamics – the science behind the process – is sound. There are plenty of prototypes, catalysts and small-scale but fully developed chemical recycling processes that can convert plastics to pyrolysis oil, and this can then be used to make pellets.
The real challenge is an economic solution and an infrastructure to collect the plastic waste, sort it and bring it into the process. Activists and industry have to come together to solve this. Also public policy has to play a role. Some kind of fund has to be established so that consumer behaviour can be changed to collect these plastics and bring them to recycling locations. The industry thinks it has a lot of time to solve this problem. But something has to be done rather quickly. Likely public policy will force action, restricting the sale and export of virgin plastics. That would be an option – basically don’t allow exports unless the pellets have a recycled content of at least 30%!
Another challenge is the social impact in local municipalities. Companies and governments must also consider the social impact of waste collection and plastics recycling. Having large-scale chemical recycling facilities where plastic waste is directed to may not be feasible. Building an ecosystem can technically be done. But is it also possible to influence consumer behaviour in less than a year?
The whole original article by Joseph Chang, 13-Apr-21, can be read on www.icis.com (News/Insight & Analysis).
Egypt’s Suez Canal has been blocked by a massive container vessel, which ran aground the key waterway, and cause delays in global shipments of commodities.
The vessel “Ever Given” got stuck in the southern end of the canal while making a turn on Tuesday. The vessel is still stuck in the canal, which provides the shortest marine route between Europe and Asia. Several tugboats have been deployed to help shift the container ship but didn’t succeed so far. “Ever Given” is 400-metre long and 59-metre wide container ship with a total carrying capacity of around 200.000 tons. The container ship has blocked off a lot of other vessels and tankers from traversing in either direction. The canal is a critical chokepoint because of the large volumes of energy commodities that flow through it.
It is still not clear how long it will take to free “Ever Given” from the spot. Ships heading both ways and shipment through the canal will be badly affected by the bottlenecks. “Ever Given” is carrying containers bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.
The good news is that carriers can show their skills in the requested higher level of information services. I received a mail the day after!
The bad news is, this won’t be the last time a vessel, with an immense loading capacity, will run into trouble. Shippers are looking for alternatives more and more. For example using the silk road, using the multi modal rail option.
Faster, greener and more reliable container rail services between China and Europe are at the moment also more cost-efficient than the all-water alternative. Urgent container capacity shortages and intense sea freight rate inflation are giving an extra push to rail cargo service links between China and Europe. The traffic recently increased with 10-15% in loads moving overland between China and Europe. With transit times between 16-18 days comparing to around 35 days for Shanghai-Rotterdam 40ft high-cube container moves by sea, speed is certainly a key advantage for rail.
Another alternative you might see at the bigger companies chartering their own ships. Smaller, still expensive but more agile and reliable.
Large companies, organizations and trade associations join initiatives to increase the amount of recycled polyester content to their products. Last week you could read in an article of ICIS about Textile Exchange working together with the United nations to “commit to bring the percentage of recycled polyester up from 14% to 45% at 17.1 million metric tonnes by 2025.” PET is the most widely used fibre in the apparel industry.
This week UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe announced that beverage packaging will be fully circular by 2030. Meaning PET bottles will be made from 50% recycled and/or renewable PET by 2025, and move to 100% by 2030. These targets go above and beyond the EU’s mandate of 25% recycled content in all PET bottles by 2025, rising to 30% recycled content by 2030.
UNESDA also presented a wish list of areas for support from the EU and national governments, including:
long-term perspective and legal certainty as well as protecting the single market;
a well-functioning secondary raw materials market that gives the soft drinks sector access to sufficient high quality rPET in order to meet its obligations under EU law, without compromising on safety standards and avoiding downcycling;
increased investment in waste management and recycling infrastructure;
an EU framework enabling innovative recycling technologies;
EU minimum requirements for new DRS across Europe
clear definitions of recyclability that foster innovation and investment
We would like to share a new slogan in our logo with you. It is changed into “Driving Circularity”! Written in sky blue it will give us and our customers the right focus for the future.
We also welcomed Paul Burgers in our team this month. His main responsibility will be Business Development and Sales. Paul has a background in (PET-)packaging, labeling & supply chain, always with a sustainability focus. Paul has built up experience from scale up, smaller family companies to large businesses across the globe in various industries.
what you see is what you get
a (good) sense of humor
eager to learn
he is the youngest team member but already with less hair 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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