Post-consumer resin (PCR) consumers adamant in their commitment to using recycled content given price volatility and supply concerns at the Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference hosted by Recycling Today Media Group in October I had the opportunity to discuss 19-20 in Chicago.
Moderator Scott Saunders, general manager of KW Plastics, a high-density recycler based in Troy, Alabama, said: Manufacturer of polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) and paint cans made from recycled PP. “Now the world seems to be returning to more normal price levels.”
Saunders was joined by panelists Diane Marret, Sustainability Director, Berry Global, and Brian Miller, Regional Sales Manager, Cascade Engineering Family of Cos. Both panelists use PCR in a variety of applications, from consumer packaging to recycling carts and auto parts.
As a processor of packaging plastics used primarily in the food and beverage, personal care and foodservice sectors, Mallett of Evansville, Indiana, described sustainability as a “team effort.” The company converts about 4 billion pounds of raw materials into packaging each year, of which he aims to shift 1 billion pounds to circular materials. “We have many challenges ahead of us, but we are making great progress,” she said.
Miller describes Cascade Engineering, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a “multi-business manufacturer” and injection molder serving a variety of industries, from Tier 2 automotive suppliers to the waste and recycling sector. Did. “We have a corporate sustainability goal of using 25% alternative materials in all our manufacturing,” he said. “This can be difficult, especially for those of us who serve different markets when brand owners don’t allow recycled content. We have an industry.”
Cascade uses about 75 million pounds of recycled HDPE annually in the waste and recycling carts it makes for the solid waste and recycling industry, and also uses engineering grade, nylon and PP, he added.
A variety of factors are driving Berry’s use of recycled plastic, with the recycled material mandate playing a role, Mallett said. “We’re already seeing that trend in Europe,” she said, adding that with the passing of recycled material laws in New Jersey and Washington, and California, the U.S. “certainly puts it in a more public conversation.” It’s becoming,” he added. “Is that driving demand? Not yet. There are pockets here and there.
According to Miller, municipalities and haulers such as Waste Management and LRS have expected Cascade to use a certain level of PCR in the past, but “then expect to see some price discounts. I expected it.”
he continued. ”
In the automotive division, Miller said: … Anything can be painted and cannot be used due to specifications [recycled content] at this point. “
Regarding the shift in attitudes towards PCR content, Sanders said 20 years ago that brands should get a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) from KW because they don’t want to be known for using PCR. rice field. Now they want his NDA. We don’t want our competitors to know where we got our PCRs from. “So it’s a big change,” he said.
Inflation is driving up the price of raw materials that brands use in their products, putting further pressure on PCR pricing, he continued. “So some of the biggest players in the industry that are making a positive move, a year or two ago, they didn’t care about price. It was about getting supply. But now we’re seeing prices return to a very big concern.”
“One thing that can help bridge the price negotiations is taking action on lightweight products,” says Marret. This could help offset some of the costs of recycled content, she added. accompanies.”
In his experience, Miller said some brands’ commitment to using PCR “outweighs the cost challenge. So brand owners don’t mind paying more for recycled parts.” I am sure you are thinking.”
“Mechanical and chemical recycling are complementary technologies and neither will replace or overtake the other in the future. Of the relationship, Mallett said, “Mechanical recycling works very well for certain material flows, certain applications. This is always the case.” , added that it makes sense in applications where either the process or product does not tolerate potential regulatory concerns about the quality of mechanically recycled materials, such as the pharmaceutical industry.