Plastics Industry Association Announces 2024 Plastic Sustainability Innovation Award Winners

People’s Choice Award will be voted on and announced during NPE2024: The Plastics Show

Washington D.C.— The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has announced the winners of its 2024 Plastic Sustainability Innovation Awards recognizing the outstanding innovations in plastics manufacturing that further environmental advantages in design, material, and end-of-life management.

PLASTICS’ Vice President of Sustainability, Patrick Krieger, congratulated the winners stating, “The plastic industry is constantly innovating to find new ways to keep plastic waste out of our environment and use resources responsibly. I congratulate our winners and look forward to presenting these companies with their well-deserved awards and voting for the People’s Choice Award during NPE in Orlando, Florida.” 

Sustainable Innovation in Design Award

Eastman is the winner of the design award for their New Molecular Recycling Facility. Eastman’s new material-to-material molecular recycling facility in Tennessee is the largest in the world with the capacity to process 110,000 metric tons of polyester waste that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. Eastman’s process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20-50% when compared to traditional processes.

“Our innovations are driven with a specific goal in mind – to solve the world’s greatest challenges by creating the most sustainable materials,” said Scott Ballard, Eastman Plastics Division President. “Eastman’s strategy is focused on leading principles where our purpose, leadership and actions continue to guide us toward carbon neutrality, circularity and caring for society. Our teams have been working incredibly hard on these challenging issues and we are honored to be selected for this important recognition.”

Sustainable Innovation in Materials Award

Bantam Materials UK Ltd. is the winner of the materials award for their Prevented Ocean Plastic Initiative. Bantam Materials UK Ltd. creates a market for discarded PET in countries with severely lacking recycling systems. Through this work, they have directly supported the construction of 13 collection centers, generated over 500,000 bottle collector workdays, created nearly 2,000 jobs, and prevented more than two billion bottles from entering the ocean.

“We’re so proud that the Plastics Industry Association has recognized our program,” said Raffi Schieir, Director of Bantam Materials UK Ltd. “Innovation in plastic technology is crucial, and we must continue to look deeper and make real progress to support the circular economy. Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is focused on preventing discarded plastic from polluting our oceans, protecting our environment, supporting coastal communities, and ultimately offering businesses, brands, and consumers a better plastic choice.”

Sustainable Innovation in End-of-Life Award

Ultra-Poly Corporation is the winner of the end-of-life award for their ELV Bumper Recycling Program. Ultra-Poly Corporation developed a complete reverse logistics collection program with autobody shops for bumper covers, a previously wasted material. They recycle about 1.2M lbs./yr. The recycled pellets are now in commercial production of a Wheel Outer Liner for GM heavy duty pick-up trucks, completing vehicle-to-vehicle circularity.

“Ultra-Poly is thrilled to receive this recognition from PLASTICS,” said Kevin Cronin, Ultra-Poly’s VP of Sustainability and R&D. “It is especially meaningful because this entire endeavor actually began as a PLASTICS NEMO (New End- Market Opportunity) project. We are particularly proud of the fact that this is essentially the first large volume, vehicle-to-vehicle circularity success for plastic materials and are excited about the potential of using this creative approach to expand ELV (End of Life Vehicle) plastic recycling.”

Leadership in Sustainability Innovation Award

The Leadership Award, the award for the company with the best overall score across the three categories, was awarded to Polycarbin for their Circular Economy for Laboratory Plastics and Carbin Counter Platform.

Polycarbin has a complete closed loop system for collecting, recycling, and re-manufacturing laboratory plastic products such as pipette tips, tubes, tube racks, etc. They also provide a tracking software, Carbin Counter, that relays the information back to users in the form of meaningful metrics including scope 3 emission reductions, water conservation, landfill diversion, and more.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Leadership in Plastic Sustainability Innovation Award from The Plastics Industry Association on behalf of Polycarbin,” said CEO James O’Brien. “This recognition demonstrates our dedication to scaling a plastics circular economy within the life science and healthcare sector. We are grateful to be acknowledged for our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. It is truly inspiring to be surrounded by fellow industry leaders who share our commitment to advancing plastic circularity. Most of all, we want to thank the community of scientists and innovators that have partnered with Polycarbin to reduce the carbon footprint of innovation. Let’s Close the Loop!”

The Sustainability Innovation Award ceremony will take place at NPE2024 in Orlando, Fla. on May 8th at 11am ET in Room W314A. Voting for the People’s Choice Award will take place at NPE on Monday and Tuesday and will be announced at the award ceremony.

The finalists for the People’s Choice Award are as follows:

Amcor – BLUE BIN 100% PCR Wine Bottle 

Amcor Rigid Packaging, in conjunction with Ron Rubin Winery, recently brought to market BLUE BIN, a premium wine packaged in a 750mL bottle made from 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material. This is the first 750 mL wine bottle made from 100% PCR released in North America, fostering a change in the market not only for responsible packaging, but customer convenience. 

Avient – Versaflex HC BIO BT218 Material 

Avient’s Versaflex HC BIO BT218 was developed as a more sustainable alternative to current single-use biopharmaceutical tubing materials. This first-generation plant-based product provides critical requirements for single-use applications, such as clarity, flexibility and low extractable/leachable profile, while reducing the product carbon footprint by 25% over petroleum-based elastomer solutions on the market and an even greater reduction compared to silicone, which is still the predominant material used in industry today. 

Coperion GmbH- ZSK FilCo Filtration Compounder 

For recycling of PCR or any highly contaminated polymer, Coperion has developed the innovative ZSK FilCo filtration compounder that allows filtration and compounding in a single production step. Compared to standard two-step production lines, the ZSK FilCo is distinguished by a more streamlined equipment setup. Energy consumption and emissions for the extrusion process are reduced by more than 50%. Moreover, the resin is only melted once, producing a higher-quality product.  

Hoola One Technologies, Inc. – HO Wrack 

The HO Wrack is a portable and mobile treatment plant specially adapted for removing plastic pellet spills from unpaved areas, where pellets mix with other materials such as rocks, dirt or other organic matter. The HO Wrack technology separates plastic from other natural materials to the point where all of the natural material is returned to the ground and the pellets can be recycled and re-sold. This innovation allows companies to remain within compliance with regulations at a greatly reduced remediation cost related to excavation and disposal of contaminated soil. 

PureCycle Technologies – PureFive Ultra-Pure Recycling Process 

The polypropylene (PP) recycling technology that PureCycle uses consists of seven main process stages that help close the loop on plastic waste while making recycled plastics more accessible at scale. The unique purification process uses extraction and filtration to remove color, odor, and other impurities from PP waste resulting in an industry-first Ultra-Pure Recycled resin that can be recycled and reused multiple times.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, including Equipment Suppliers, Material Suppliers, Processors, and Recyclers, representing over one million workers in our $548 billion U.S. industry. PLASTICS advances the priorities of our members who are dedicated to investing in technologies that improve capabilities and advances in recycling and sustainability and providing essential products that allow for the protection and safety of our lives. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members, and the seventh largest U.S. manufacturing industry, more globally competitive while supporting circularity through educational initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, convening opportunities and policy advocacy, including the largest plastics trade show in the Americas, NPE2024: The Plastics Show.