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Together in the transition to a Circular Plastics Economy

As part of our goal to be Climate, Land and People positive, we at Croda Smart Materials offer, and are developing, ingredients to help society transition to a circular plastic economy (CPE).

Since the 1950s billions of tons of plastic has been consumed worldwide and only a small percentage of this has been recycled. Yet, plastic plays a crucial role in meeting the challenges of a changing climate and growing population. Plastic food packaging helps to preserve and protect food leading to a reduction in food waste. Green energy from wind and solar sources are widely available as plastic materials allow the design of larger, stronger, and lighter wind turbines and smaller, more efficient solar panels. Plastic light weight material design in the automotive and aerospace market reduce fuel consumption and costs. The key is not to ban plastic entirely, but transition to a circular plastics economy. The challenge lies in re-thinking the use of plastic, re-designing, re-using and effectively managing plastic waste.

Not one company can successfully achieve this transition alone and value chain collaborations, as well as government support, are necessary to achieve this circular economy revolution.

The value of a Circular Plastic Economy

In a circular economy, innovative solutions can be created using the following criteria:

  • Re-think the sustainable applicability and consumption of plastic. A well-known example is the usage of a single-use plastic shopping bags. Although this is not a sustainable application, a re-usable plastic shopping bag is preferred over paper or textile alternatives according to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
  • Re-use of plastic materials. This can be achieved through modular design in, for example, electronic devices, whitegoods, and mobility. This increases the durability and stability of plastics without affecting their end-of-life fate and allows for safe re-use of plastic items.
  • Re-design to enable mechanical recycling of plastics, and modular design for circular product development. To facilitate mechanical recycling the innovation challenges are to retain consumer ease of use and product performance. For example, achieving a similar performance to multi-layer plastics using monolayer or mono-material design.
  • Re-cycle plastics by mechanical or chemical recycling when the previous options are no longer technically or economically feasible. Improved collection systems need to be put into place to facilitate mechanical recycling. The circular plastic economy has the potential to significantly reduce plastic waste entering the ocean and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, what is keeping us all from building this circular plastics economy?

The circular plastic economy has the potential to significantly reduce plastic waste entering the ocean and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, what is keeping us all from building this circular plastics economy?

  • Existing financial investment models do not show sufficient ROI (Return on Investment) of mechanically recycled waste plastic and giving this plastic a second life. Virgin plastic usage is cheaper, widely available and the linear production model has been optimised.
  • Chemical recycling, such as pyrolysis, is in infant stages of development and needs further optimisation to present its economic value. We believe chemical recycling is the last resort for plastic.
  • Country infrastructures are not in place to collect and sort incoming plastic waste to create a closed-loop product cycle from manufacturing, consumption, post-consumption, recycling back to manufacturing.
  • Consumer education is vital to for a successful transition. Consumers play a critical role in the circular plastic economy chain. They need better understanding about which plastics can be reduced, re-used and re-cycled. Plastic sorting facilities need to be further optimised to separate various plastic streams.

Sustainability is at the heart of our business

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Our smart ambition to a circular plastics economy

Croda sustainability Product Design logo
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Croda polymer additives product guide

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Smarter plastics product guide

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Successful CPE strategies through partnerships

Now is the time to work together to tackle these challenges. We believe successful CPE strategies are those where partnerships exist throughout the value chain.

Our solutions for a circular plastic future

Croda Smart Materials has built extensive knowledge and expertise in the plastics market over the last 50 years. We offer high-performance additives and bio-based monomers for resin manufacturing to partners in the value chain producing high value engineering polymers and polyolefin materials that find their use in the electronics, sports & leisure, food packaging and mobility markets.

Our aim is to be a major contributor to the way that plastics are designed, reused, and recycled. We seek alliances through partnerships and collaborations to contribute to the circular plastics economy and strive to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What value can we bring to your circular plastic innovations?

Reduce plastics

  • Thinner plastic films can be manufactured with our Crodamide range of slip additives
  • Reduction in scrappage during processing can be obtained by the inclusion of IncroMold mould release agents. These additives reduce waste and improve processing efficiency
  • Static reduction can be achieved by using our Ionphase permanent anti-static additives, leading to fewer defects and rejects of electronic component parts.

Re-use of plastics

  • Extending the product lifetime of a polyolefin plastic component is possible with the anti-scratch additive Incroslip SL. This additive reduces the visibility of scratches on surfaces.
  • Fishing net lifetime extension has been accomplished by applying a PUD (PolyUrethane Dispersion) coating based on our Priplast polyester polyol. Priplast based PUD coatings display excellent hydrophobicity and provide an anti-fouling effect on the net. The lifetime extension contributes to plastic waste reduction in our precious oceans, besides lowering the fuel consumption due to lower weight build-up by fouling.

Re-design of plastic

  • Croda is actively seeking collaborative opportunities in the following areas:
    • to develop mono-material alternatives and to improve barrier properties in these mono-material solutions
    • adhesive and de-bonding on demand solutions
    • rPET barrier property enhancements
    • alternative raw materials for polymers such as bio-based or recycled feedstocks

Croda’s 2030 ambition to be Climate, Land and People Positive contributes directly to the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. Our circular product solutions contribute to the following SDGs:

  • SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 – Climate Action
  • SDG 14 – Life Below Water

SDG 17: Partnering for a circular plastic future

To transition to a truly circular plastics economy, we must rethink the way we define, create and market innovation and we must establish cross value chain collaborations.

SDG 17 is central to our thinking and our business strategy to accomplish our ambition to be a major contributor to the way that plastics are designed, re-used and recycled. In the nearly 100 years that Croda has served its markets, we have proven that we are successful innovators and can continuously meet the changing market requirements.

We have joined organisations such as EPEA and Petcore Europe to work collaboratively with partners in the value chain to redesign existing products to contribute to the circular economy. To create a bigger impact, we want to join forces with more partners that share our ambition. Contact us to find out how we can work together.

Smart partnering
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