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Accelerating the transition towards a circular economy

Source:International Plastics News for     Date:2021-06-01
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Many new developments in the plastics industry are pointing towards intensified actions to achieve a circular economy. It has been a consensus among the stakeholders in the plastics industry that the private companies must work together with the government and non-governmental organisations to overcome the challenges in sustainable production. In the ASEAN region, the move towards “zero waste” poses a huge task, yet, new technological and material solutions are paving the way to alleviate the plastic waste problem through advanced recycling and using recycled materials to create new products.


The “2021 ASEAN Manufacturing Summit: Creating a Circular Economy for Plastics” was held on May 20, 2021 from 2:00-4:30 p.m. (GMT-8) through Ringier Events’ virtual platform. The webinar, which also included a business matching and exhibit, was organised in partnership with various industry associations in the ASEAN region. This year’s virtual summit focused on automation, smart manufacturing, material innovations and recycling techniques – and how these can help improve waste management and reuse of recycled plastics.  This year, the summit had the special participation of leading companies – FIMIC SRL as sponsor, and Polystar Machinery Co., Ltd. as major exhibitor. 


Successfully held for the past two years, the “ASEAN Manufacturing Summits: Creating a Circular Economy for Plastics” has been assisting plastic manufacturers in ASEAN to obtain the latest information and techniques relevant to plastics production. More important, the event looks at how breakthrough production technologies and material solutions can support the plastics industry’s move to alleviate the plastic waste problem. The summit serves as ideal platform where delegates can interact with industry experts and discuss with these experts. Starting last year, the summit transformed into a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic but the exhibition and business exchange/networking continues, as well as the active online exchange between the speakers and attendees.  


As circular economy is a trending topic in the plastics industry, interesting presentations and lively discussions were held during the webinar. The guest speakers are well-known industry experts, and they shared relevant updates and developments in the plastics industry’s move towards a circular economy. They also answered the questions posed by the audience who also consulted the speakers on how they can improve their production process and product quality.

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Eco-design and the packaging trends 

The introduction of Mr. Henky Wibawa, Vice President for Education at World Packaging Organization (WPO) and Executive Director of Indonesian Packaging Federation (IPF), on the circular packaging design and recycling cited the key steps taken by the plastics industry to reduce plastic waste and adopt a sustainable packaging design. Mr. Wibawa talked about the trends affecting the packaging market in every region.


Urbanisation has raised demand for packaging that brings convenience and meets the new lifestyle and preference for wellness. Increasing awareness on the impact of packaging on the environment has also led to a redesign of packaging into what is now called eco-design, which aims to reduce the carbon footprint and minimise waste.  Mr. Wibawa also discussed the main change drivers and opportunities in packaging which are in the areas of recycling, as well as the use of recyclable materials in packaging products. 


Avient, a leading materials company, had two speakers for this webinar - Ms. Asina Lee, Senior Marketing Manager, Packaging, Asia, and Ms. Choprayoon Chulamanee, Additives Product Manager, SEA & ANZ. Ms. Chulamanee provided an overview on the single-use beverage packaging, why it’s the preferred packaging for food products and the issue on disposal of single-use packaging. She also gave a background on Avient as a sustainable organisation whose current efforts point towards enhanced recycling and utilisation of recycled materials such as r-PET. Ms. Lee talked about  Avient’s material solutions that are helping businesses lend plastic waste a second life. She also mentioned how Avient’s solutions are meeting today’s r-PET utilisation challenge, such as solutions that stabilise the colour and enhance the strength of bottles made of recycled materials.  An important development from Avient is the launch of ColorMatrix™ Amosorb™ 4020R, a non-nylon-containing oxygen scavenger additive specifically formulated to enable the use of up to 100 percent r-PET content. This new additive joins the robust portfolio of ColorMatrix additives that enable improved recycling for plastic packaging.


Smart recycling to achieve circularity

The current and future trends in recycling and technologies, as well as how to achieve smart production were key issues tackled by the guest speakers. FIMIC SRL Regional Sales Manager, Ms. Aria Chen, informed the attendees how FIMIC automatic melt filter can benefit contaminated plastic recycling. In Asia, there are many types of plastic waste, such as post-industrial or post-commercial film which can pose tremendous challenge as these are usually highly contaminated and complicated to recycle. For the whole recycling process, there is a need for correct sorting and efficient washing as these are key elements, and according to Ms. Chen, the extruder must have good ability for mix, melting, and degassing. Filtration has also become an essential part for the pelletising line, and FIMIC can supply the best melt filter for the recycling line. Ms. Chen explained how the automatic filter RAS system can process heavily contaminated material. It has a scraping system and is self-cleaning that it is capable of continuous operation.  As the RAS filter is flexible, various types of materials can be processed including HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, PP, PS, as well as rigid or soft PVC material. More important, it can remove any contamination type, from paper, aluminium, unmelted plastic, even the small pieces of metal. 


Recycling solutions for high quality recycled pellets from PE, PP and PET post-consumer scrap was the topic of the presentation by Mr. David Schweinzer, Msc., Regional Sales Manager at Starlinger & Co. Gesellschaft m.b.H. Mr. Schweinzer is in charge of the Southeast Asia, Japan and China markets – regions with growing demand and use of recycled plastics. To meet the requirements of recyclers in these regions, Starlinger offers different recycling lines for thermoplastic production and processing of post-consumer scraps. The company has sold and installed over 75 PET bottle to bottle plants. According to Mr. Schweinzer, recycling systems from Starlinger are used to process production and industrial scrap and post-consumer scrap, such as film, woven bag, etc. and collaborates with FIMIC as FIMIC’s RAS filter is applied in Starlinger post-consumer recycling line. Starlinger has four different recycling machines:  recoSTAR Direct for production scrap for heavy regrind;  recoSTAR Dynamic for in-house waste post production scrap and inline, post-consumer scrap, heavily contaminated scrap; recoSTAR Universal for production scrap, with no pre-cutting required such as polyamide fibre; and recoSTAR PET for PET production scrap, PET post-consumer scrap, IV increase,  etc. 


 Meeting the challenges to waste management

A presentation by Commissioner Crispian Lao, Vice Chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission on the Philippine waste management challenges and industry response towards ZERO WASTE TO NATURE 2030 looks at the state of solid waste management in the Philippines and the regulatory framework that governs waste disposal in the Philippines. In particular, Mr. Lao discussed how the Philippines’ solid waste commission had also developed standardised guidelines for waste analysis and characterisation study.  He also cited the development of the marine litter plan and the initiatives to alleviate plastic waste in such sectors as flexible packaging, and waste recovery program to ensure that the targets  of circular economy are met.


Another interesting presentation by Mr. Barak Ekshtein, Founder of TONTOTON, focused on neutralising plastic footprints.  TONTOTON is a plastic neutralisation program that offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to reduce ocean plastic. It is based in Vietnam, the world’s 4th largest contributor to marine plastic pollution globally.  Mr. Ekhstein described how the program works. First, the business defines its neutralisation plan where the program identifies the overall plastic consumption and quantity to neutralise; then TONTOTON collaborates with the local communities to rescue an equal volume of ocean plastic in behalf of the business client. TONTOTON then co-process all rescued plastics to generate Alternative Fuels and Raw Materials (AFRM). The business entity then becomes a certified sustainable business preserving the environment with an international certified solution.  

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