As many manufacturing companies are working toward Circular Economy to realize Carbon Neutrality, we need to start actively using recycled materials in our products.
In recent years, Polyplastics has received feedback from our customers asking us to develop products using recycled materials and to provide technical know-how. These include the issues, anxieties, and requests of customers such as “We have to use recycled materials, but we are concerned about the quality,” “We want to use materials with a low carbon footprint,” and “We want to reduce the waste generated in the manufacturing process,” etc.
In order to solve such customer problems, we have started a new Re-compounding Service. This service is an effort to give new life to molding scraps (sprues, runners, and crushed pieces) generated in the customers’ manufacturing process as a new product without discarding them.
Different from the conventional simple process cycle (regrinding), we work with our customers to manage the quality of the molding scraps, and use the manufacturing technology we have cultivated over many years to manufacture recycled materials through process control and strict inspections.
The quality of this recycled material dispels any concerns customers may have. By partially using recycled materials, customers can reduce the amount of virgin materials while maintaining product quality and functionality. Therefore, this is a great business opportunity for us.
In addition, the use of these recycled materials leads to a reduction in the carbon footprint of the product, and also reduces the amount of molding scraps that customers have trouble disposing of.
Besides this, we are also conducting the research and development related to the recycling of used engineering plastics, which are difficult to collect as a mono material when they are mixed with other materials. Specifically, we are working on chemical recycling, energy recovery,*2 and technologies to reuse the CO2 generated during combustion. Through these efforts, we are striving to offer recycling solutions for all of our engineering plastics in the future.
By establishing 3D printing technology to produce POM, we have been able to shorten our customers’ product development processes, reduce energy consumption, and dramatically reduce the amount of materials and the amount of engineering plastics waste generated during the product manufacturing process.
Until now, the development of trial products by making molds multiple times generated many labor and other costs for manufacturing and storing molds and also consumed a large amount of energy during machine operation. However, the introduction of 3D printers without molding has significantly reduced costs and energy requirements. Furthermore, waste is also reduced and products can be manufactured using a minimal amount of materials. The amount of materials needed can be reduced by as much as half that used when die molding or cutting, depending on the situation.
It has been difficult to control warpage and shrinkage during 3D-printed POM modeling, but we have succeeded in creating optimal conditions.
We will continue to pursue research and development to increase the types of resins that can be used for 3D printing.
Polyplastics manufactures PLASTRON® LFT, which is strengthened with a plant-based regenerated long cellulose fiber. In FY2022, we successfully developed a new low GHGE grade PLASTRON that emits less CO2 during manufacturing.
PLASTRON® LFT long fiber reinforced resin uses cellulose, a biomass material, which makes the product environment-friendly. However, the production process for regenerated cellulose fibers requires multiple complicated steps, which poses the issue of high CO2 emissions. Polyplastics solved this issue by creating the Solvent Method for manufacturing regenerated cellulose fibers. This method cuts CO2 emissions by approximately 40% compared to conventional products.
In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, the "Solvent Method" is an environmentally friendly production process because the solvent can be reused in the manufacturing process. The conventional method uses cellulose, solvent, and multiple chemicals, while the solvent method uses only cellulose, solvent, and water, resulting in almost no waste. Therefore, the newly developed low-GHGE grade product generates very little waste during manufacturing while offering almost the same reinforcing strength as glass fiber-reinforced resins, making it both environment-friendly and highly functional. We will continue to expand our lineup of environment-friendly products as well as to create sustainable products for its customers.