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The winners of the 2016 European Plastics Innovation Awards, this year co-organized by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE; Bethel, CT) and PlasticsEurope (Brussels, Belgium), were announced yesterday at the award ceremony that took place during the PlasticsEurope Annual New Year reception in Brussels. The awards, divided into seven different categories, honored companies demonstrating outstanding and highly innovative developments in the field of plastics technology.

Karen Laird

January 26, 2016

6 Min Read
Winners of the 2016 European Plastics Innovation Awards announced


Overall, innovation was the key theme of the evening, which was held at the prestigious Solvay Bibliotheque, near the building of the European Parliament and attended by some 200 guests. Opening the evening, Patrick Thomas, President of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Covestro, said: "The plastics industry is at the forefront of innovation in Europe. With one out of 25 patents coming from the industry, plastics are at the heart of many of today’s technological advances. Ongoing investment in innovation is essential if we want to tackle some of the major challenges Europe is facing today.”

“Plastics is one of the great innovations of the last century,” said Kurt Vandenberghe, Director for Climate Action and Resource Efficiency, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission. He nonetheless went on to point out that “we cannot continue on the current trend,” and that challenges, such as the economic leakage from the sector due to the lack of adequate waste management and marine litter, are arising. “So, we’re in trouble,” he said. “We have to innovate ourselves out of this problem.” Regulations alone are not enough, he said. “We must harness the power of innovation so that plastic is part of the solution, and not just the problem.”

Next, it was the turn of Willem De Vos, CEO of the SPE, who was tasked with presenting the seven awards in the different categories. “We had 37 submissions, out of which we ended up with seven winners and five runners-up,” he said. “What was remarkable was the fact that all entries were the result of collaboration, for example between a polymer manufacturer, or processor, tool manufacturer, equipment manufacturer—not one product was from a single company.”

The entries were judged by a jury made up of experts from the world of academia, European institutions and the industry. The winning entries were on display against the backdrop of the Bibliotheque’s old book collection.

The next edition of the European Plastics Innovation Awards will take place mid-2017 and the call for parts will be sent out towards the end of this year.

The winners of the different categories were:

The Best Plastic Design award went to DSM Engineering Plastics (The Netherlands) for the high performance edging chassis for a mountaineering shoe from Salomon, made from its biobased polyamide EcoPaXX. EcoPaXX made it possible for Salomon to produce a chassis with an intricate design that is light, has the necessary mix of flexibility and rigidity, retains its properties at very low temperatures typical of mountain environments, and has reduced moisture uptake, despite being a polyamide. The material is very suitable for injection molding and is certified as carbon neutral from cradle to gate.

The award for the Best Design for End-of-Life was captured by Top Clean Packaging (France), for its Wine/Champagne pack that is designed to allow handling/transport of the packaged product and provides protection during transportation and falls. The lightweight construction, replacing current bulky packaging, reduces the environmental impact of the packaging, which, moreover, can be reused in a second life as a shelving system for bottles (e.g. in a wine cellar). The new packaging is clean, easy to open and nestable for minimum storage space.

The Material Innovation award was won by Evonik Industries (Germany), for its VESTAMID NRG for use in full plastic gas pipes for high pressure. For many decades, steel was the only material for gas pipes in the medium pressure range. In 2012, however, it became commercially possible for the first time to replace steel by polyamide 12. Evonik worked on this development for more than 10 years. The cornerstones of this achievement are the identification of the application, its technical realization (from development of the polymer and compound to installation in the field), the committee work required and, not least, the effort involved in convincing pipe manufacturers and gas distribution operators of the advantages of the new material.
 
The Hybrid Product award went to DuPont International Operations (Switzerland), for an offshore mooring tether incorporating wave protection for floating structures. The tether is suitable for offshore data & navigation buoys, marinas/pontoon; fish farm cages & feed barges, renewable energy-wave, floating wind and tidal platforms.

The Tfi Marine polymer base solution incorporates hybrid polymer mooring components to control the motion, substantially reduces forces by up to 70% and delivers better location holdings. Consisting of a thermoplastics spring coupled with a rubber elastomer, it has the potential to substantially reduce mooring costs for buoys, aquaculture and ocean energy. The taut keg design also reduces the sea bed damage from conventional mooring chains movement on the sea bed.

Best Substitute Product for Enhanced Sustainability: This award was taken home by Dow Europe (Switzerland), for its flexible bottle with PacXPERT packaging technology. PacXPERT is a flexible and reclosable packaging solution for solid or viscous products in medium volume segment, where typically bottles, jerry cans or canisters are used. The flexible packaging is an alternative to rigid buckets and canisters in volumes from 2 to 20 liters. Durable, lightweight, and cost effective, the flexible structure allows for easy and fast pouring without glugging. The packaging offers transportation efficiency with empty packages shipping flat, potentially lowering CO2 emissions. The flexible structure allows the evacuation of air before closure, lowering the contents’ exposure to oxygen.

The award for the Best Lightweight Innovation went to Treofan/Borealis (Germany/Austria), for its PHD1.9—Polypropylene Capacitor Film with a thickness of only 1.9 um. Treofan developed ultrathin capacitor films—down to 1.9 um—with a very high level of thickness homogeneity field stressability, low energy losses and very good mechanical characteristics.

Borealis AG developed a super pure, high isotactic polypropylene homopolymer with a novel polymer design that enables the production of these ultra-thin films. Treofan and Borealis are planning to further improve those films enabling to additionally reduce thickness for increasing volume efficiency, thermal resistance and electrical breakdown voltage levels.

New Surfaces for Plastics Parts: And again, Borealis Polyolefine (Austria), for the lightweight primerless paintable bumper developed in close partnership with BMW. Targeted for use in BMW’s top vehicle range, the new Daplen EE112AE grade shows how Borealis and Borouge deliver expertise along the entire product and application development chain in order to facilitate primerless paint systems for exterior plastic applications, which fulfil the most demanding design and performance criteria. Primerless painting systems address the need for greater economy and sustainability in automotive exterior applications by reducing cycle time and system costs.

 

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