Borealis AG is the latest virgin resin manufacturer to invest in recycling, but it is taking a different and more aggressive route than the handful of others looking to show their circular economy credentials. The Austrian chemical and resin company announced in June that it has developed a new, mechanical recycling technology named Borcycle.
Without providing technical details of the new technology, Borealis said the first Borcycle-produced resin will be available to customers in Europe this year. The resin is a 10-percent-talc-filled compound that contains more than 80-percent-recycled material and offers a balance between stiffness and impact. It will be suited for use in visible black parts. The first commercial application is a vacuum cleaner undercarriage with many structural ribs.
Borealis and its wholly owned subsidiary, German recycler MTM Plastics, will show the recycling process and new materials at K 2019, Oct. 16-23 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Borealis did not say how much it has invested to develop the new process.
“Advancing technology is crucial if our aim is to implement value-creating solutions in the circular sphere,” Maurits van Tol, Borealis senior vice president for innovation, technology and circular economy solutions, says in a news release announcing the technology.
At a meeting in June in Linz, Austria, Tol told a group of journalists that Borealis plans to quadruple the quantity of recycled content in its resins by 2030, but it is possible the company will meet that goal by 2025.
In a separate announcement, Borealis and Ansfelden, Austria-based Erema Group GmbH agreed to work together on improving technologies and processes for mechanical recycling through joint tests, trial runs and pilot projects. The two companies will design and implement technical solutions, standardize feedstock and recycled pellets and acquire better market intelligence to meet customers’ needs.
Erema CEO Manfred Hackl says the “intensified cooperation is certain to have a catalytic effect in the transformational process to a circular economy.”
Borealis is in the business of selling plastic pellets. The pellets can be virgin or recycled, and the company clearly believes it can make money by adding high-quality recycled pellets to its catalog. The business challenges it faces are improving the quality of recycled resins and guaranteeing an adequate supply.
Borealis acquired MTM Plastics in 2016 and a second recycler, Austria-based Ecoplast, last year. The company says it plans to roll out improved versions of several of its current recycled resins at K 2019.
I like this model of a virgin resin company investing in the entire recycling chain—from bale to new resin. Virgin resin manufacturers have deep pockets and a deep well of technical knowledge. It might bring some stability to the fragmented and fractured recycling industry. Stay tuned.