Lack of raw materials hampers plastic sustainability.

The speakers at the ‘INOV.AM – Innovation in Additive Manufacturing’ conference highlighted the difficulty of obtaining renewable raw materials. The scarcity of recycled and recyclable materials is a barrier to sustainable development in the plastics industry, as discussed at the conference during Mold Week in Marinha Grande.

Região de Leiria, 22 Nov. 2023, https://www.regiaodeleiria.pt/2023/11/semana-de-moldes-falta-de-materias-primas-esta-a-travar-sustentabilidade-dos-plasticos/.

Moulds Event 2023 - A importância da agenda INOV.AM

Sustainability is crucial for polymers [plastics], but obtaining renewable raw materials is a challenge, as indicated by Raul Pentieiros, Commercial Director of VFPlas, during the Centimfe session.

Although sustainability is often discussed, finding raw materials is more challenging than discussing them. Suppliers often claim to have suitable raw materials, but finding them in sufficient quantity is problematic, highlighted Pentieiros.

Pentieiros stated that “sustainability has a beginning, but we don’t know how and where it will end.”

Indicating that, although theoretically recyclable, the economic viability is uncertain. He questioned how to carry out the collection and what the cost of recycling the polymers would be.

The major challenge in recycling thermoplastics lies in establishing collection and sorting systems, due to the diversity in consumption.

Pentieiros suggested a potential reduction in the number of polymers used to facilitate separation. On the other hand, João Monteiro, Operations Director at LCR/Coblex, highlighted the issue of reliable recycled and recyclable materials regarding their origin. He emphasized the importance of complying with REACH regulations and remaining vigilant regarding SVHC substances.

When searching for recycled materials, pigmented or not, with heavy metals or other contaminating substances whose origin cannot be determined or guaranteed, the available quantities decrease drastically, regardless of price,” stated Monteiro. He pointed out the additional complexity of the biological aspect of sustainability, indicating that if one wishes to invest in a significant percentage of bio-based materials, there are very limited quantities available, with only the conventional market capable of supplying companies.

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