The plastics industry prepares for the windfall of the U.S. Infrastructure Act | Plastics Today

2021-11-11 07:48:50 By : Mr. Thomas Zhang

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CRDC-Human habitat on Vimeo from CRDC Global.

The plastics industry is positioning itself-in some cases ready-to take a share of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the US Senate on September 7 by a bipartisan vote. The bill aims to rebuild the country’s roads, bridges, and other crumbling infrastructure, and to provide funding for new climate adaptation projects and broadband plans.

Although the bill may be delayed when it is submitted to the House of Representatives for approval and is expected to be opposed by some Democrats who think the bill is not broad enough, it will still provide opportunities for some plastic manufacturers in the transportation and infrastructure sectors.

The Plastics Industry Association is a supporter of the bipartisan bill, which "includes key provisions to strengthen waste management and replace aging lead pipes with plastic pipes," said President and CEO Tony Radoszewski (Tony Radoszewski). "Waste management regulations will strengthen our country's recycling infrastructure and consumer participation. This legislation provides financial support for the recycling infrastructure grant program created by the "Save Our Ocean 2.0 Act", which was signed into law last year. The bill also includes content in the "Recycling Act", which sets aside funds to increase consumer education and participation in the recycling system."

Some global entities have recently announced new sustainability initiatives, which are closely linked to the construction and infrastructure sectors.

The global non-profit organization Alliance for the End of Plastic Waste and the South African Recycling Design and Cooperation Center (CRDC) were established in 1997 and announced a partnership on September 14 to expand the system of recycling plastic waste into building and construction applications Concrete additives. CRDC will develop a 14,000-square-foot production facility in York, Pennsylvania to increase its production capacity. The company will also expand its existing production plant in Costa Rica, which will reach a full commercial production capacity of 90 tons per day when it is fully operational in mid-2022. (The video above shows the Valle Azul sustainable housing project in Costa Rica, which is a collaboration between CRDC, Habitat for Humanity, Dow and local organizations.)

CRDC said that when completed, these two facilities will be able to process up to 24,000 metric tons of plastic waste each year. They will accept all types of mixed plastic waste, otherwise these wastes will be sent to landfills or incinerated to produce concrete additive RESIN8, suitable for the manufacture of concrete blocks and pavers, precast concrete and cast-in-place concrete. According to the The company claims that the weight or strength of concrete products made with RESIN8 can be reduced by up to 15%, depending on its use, and the insulation performance is 20% higher than that of traditional concrete. Habitat for Humanity has used RESIN8 concrete to build houses in Latin America.

"CRDC Global is honored to cooperate with the End Plastic Waste Alliance to achieve recycling by expanding the production of RESIN8, which is a product that has a positive impact on both the plastics and construction industries," said Chairman Donald Thomson. Founder of CRDC Global. "RESIN8 was designed by the construction industry as well as for the construction industry as a functional step to achieve net zero. We have spent several years on research and development to ensure that we have a process that can be quickly expanded to help resolve waste plastics. problem." 

In another sustainable infrastructure development, two European companies recently launched a new polypropylene sewer pipe, which uses more than 50% of its raw materials from certified renewable raw materials, which can reduce the product’s carbon footprint by as much as 70 %. Uponor Infra Oy of Finland and Borealis of Austria stated that their Ultra Rib 2 Blue guarantees high performance and more than 100 years of service, while maintaining existing quality standards and certifications.

The specifications of Ultra Rib 2 Blue are the same as its standard Ultra Rib 2 in terms of features and performance. The pipes are manufactured at the Uponor factory in Fristad, Sweden, and have passed the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS). The product uses Borealis Bornewables, which is a round polyolefin product made from renewable raw materials and can provide the same material properties as the original polyolefin. As part of this certification, customers will receive a sustainability statement regarding the quantity of renewable raw materials when the Ultra Rib 2 Blue is delivered in accordance with the mass balance method.

The reduction of the carbon dioxide footprint is achieved by partially replacing fossil raw materials with renewable raw materials from waste and residue streams, which are not suitable for human consumption and can be traced back to their first collection point. The two companies stated that the chain of custody created by ISCC PLUS certification ensures that Borealis’ Bornewables product portfolio and Uponor’s Ultra Rib 2 Blue meet ISCC PLUS’s high sustainability standards.

Uponor stated that data transparency is at the core of Ultra Rib 2 Blue and Uponor Blue's sustainable product lines. To help organizations achieve their sustainability goals, products are backed by independently verified data.

Also in Europe, better building insulation is a key goal of the "European Green Agreement". According to Ceresana, a market research organization that focuses on plastics, chemicals, packaging and industrial products, commercial and residential buildings account for nearly 40% of total energy consumption. The European Commission has called for a "wave of innovation" to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ceresana said that EU countries are expected to invest about 200 billion euros a year to modernize the energy systems of homes and public buildings until 2030.

The company said that expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a popular insulating material, and its manufacturers and processors are benefiting from these energy efficiency initiatives. The demand for EPS in 2020 is about 6.59 million tons.

EPS is a lightweight, strong foam that is easy to shape and is traded under brands such as Styropor or Airpop. This multifunctional material is mainly composed of air and expanded polystyrene, with flame retardants and other additives such as graphite added. Approximately 53% of the EPS market enters construction products. Other uses include safety helmets, life jackets, beverage cups and molds. The construction industry uses low-cost materials to insulate, heat and sound-proof new and old buildings. Ceresana pointed out that its main competitors are glass and rock wool, but insulation materials based on renewable raw materials are becoming more and more popular.

Japan, South Korea, and some countries in the Americas also have ambitious building climate protection goals. Especially in the Asia-Pacific and Americas, EPS is not only used for insulating materials, but also widely used for packaging of seafood and electronic products. The packaging sector accounts for more than 40% of total global EPS demand. According to Ceresana's data, the Asia-Pacific region will account for approximately 57% of global EPS demand in 2020. The per capita demand for EPS packaging is rising, especially in emerging and developing countries.

The fourth edition of the market research "Expandable Polystyrene-EPS" is available for purchase on the Ceresana website.

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