For more information, contact:

Kim Holmes
VP, Sustainability

Since the inception of the Recycling Committee at the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), efforts to promote the recycling of plastic products have been supported by focusing on development of demand for recycled materials.  As the association that represents the consumers of plastics, through the Processor and Brand Owner councils, PLASTICS is uniquely positioned to convene cross-supply chain workgroups to meaningfully identify new opportunities for use of recycled plastics through demonstration projects.

A demonstration project typically consists of material collection, processing, and testing while documenting processes and best practices for each stage in the project. The methodologies and final test results are published in a technology package compiled by PLASTICS.

Demonstration Projects

  • End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Recycling Project Overview

    Approximately 12-15 million vehicles are scrapped each year in the U.S.  The average lifespan of a vehicle is estimated to be about 11 years, and increasingly those vehicles are comprised of more and more plastics.  Factors like increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and the increased design freedom afforded by plastics are driving the increased use of plastics in new vehicle design.   Recovery of plastic components before shredding is largely driven by the resale market, but some recovery for mechanical recycling is also occurring. 

    It is the belief of the Plastics Industry Association and that new efforts should be pursued to identify whether further recovery of plastic components for recycling could be done to the economic benefit of auto recyclers, and to the material supply benefit to the plastics industry.  Through increasing knowledge about the value of plastics and scaling up markets for ELV bumpers and other parts, it is possible that we many more bumpers could be recovered prior to shredding of ELVs.  

    The Transportation and Industrial Plastics (TIP) Committee agreed to support this effort and a formal demonstration project was launched in November 2015. The goal of this effort was to demonstrate the viability of collection and recycling of auto plastics from ELVs and build a basic recovery model, beginning with Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), which can be eventually expanded upon to include a broader range of resins and parts.   To date, a variety of testing has been conducted on TPO recovered from bumpers and initial evaluation suggests there could be strong demand for the recycled TPO if the right end markets are identified. Through collaboration with various other association and member companies, PLASTICS will work to prove out those end markets, creating new opportunity for auto recyclers to generate revenue.

    Click here, to view Phase 1 of the Technology Package!

  • New End Market Opportunities (NEMO) for Film Project Overview

    Renewed emphasis was placed on the collection of films when the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a joint memorandum of understanding to increase the recovery of PE films to 2 billion lbs. by 2020.  This would be accomplished through the expansion of the ACC-backed WRAP return-to-retail program for PE films.  This goal represents a near doubling of collection through the WRAP program, which was estimated at 1.2 billion lbs. in 2015.

    However, with challenging market conditions and limited end markets that are showing signs of exhausted demand, new concern arose about where those new pounds of PE film would go.  With very little control over changing these external export and market factors, the industry is challenged to find new end markets in an innovative cost-competitive way. Not only will the films need to be processed in a less expensive fashion that will likely yield slightly diminished quality to the PCR PE film pellets currently available on the market, the performance of that PE film blend needs to be paired to the right end market application.  Accomplishing this requires a fully collaborative and open source approach to material processing, testing and evaluation. 

    Click here, to read the literature review of the (NEMO) Film Project

    Based on the success of previous a demonstration model developed by PLASTICS, the association was approached to develop a similar effort for PE film.  The PLASTICS Flexible Film and Bag Division agreed to support this effort and a formal demonstration project was launched in January 2017.  The goal of this effort would be to secure various return-to-retail samples, understand the range of contamination and various processing methods that would not require substantial processing, perform a standard set of tests on those processed samples to understand the mechanical and physical properties of the blended PE streams, and identify potential end markets, as well as the size of the opportunities, for the processed retail film.

    Click here, to view Phase 1 of the Technology Package

    The NEMO workgroup is also exploring the opportunity to blend the Pelletier PE films into asphalt.  Preliminary testing showed potential improved performance when the PE is used. The findings of the first phase of research can be found in the Phase I report.

    Click here, to view the Phase I Asphalt Testing Report

    The next stage of research focused on storage stability and maintaining even dispersion of the PE blends in the binder. Results of that initial research, where multiple compatibilizers were evaluated.

    Click here, to view the NCAT Storage Stability Testing Report