Making new products from plastic waste from the ocean has become a goal for both brand owners and some in the plastics industry seeking a solution for valuable plastic materials carelessly thrown into the environment by thoughtless people. In October 2016, Procter & Gamble announced its new Fairy Ocean plastic bottle, the first to use 100% recycled plastic and ocean plastic. Now, Techmer PM (Clinton, TN), a materials design company that works in partnership with plastics processors, OEMs and designers to tackle business, manufacturing and sustainability challenges, has helped create a new solution for ocean plastic.
The new bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic from waste that was diverted from waterways. Recycler Envision Plastics Industries LLC (Chino, CA) created the new bottle from its OceanBound plastic. It sports a metallic, pearlescent-effect finish thanks to Techmer PM’s compounding expertise. And it signals the promise of applying innovation to address some of the world’s most pressing pollution challenges, said Techmer PM.
In addition to Techmer PM and Envision Plastics, the team included environmental change leader Primal Group and bottle blowmolder Classic Containers Inc. (Ontario, CA).
Techmer PM acknowledged that other companies have implemented some high-profile applications of recycled, ocean-bound plastics—such as Dell’s use of the material as packaging for one of its laptop computers—but no one, until now, has been able to produce a metallic-looking bottle made totally from waste plastics diverted or captured from at-risk areas, it said.
Getting there involved overcoming several challenges. Primal Group wanted a specific color and reflective finish on the bottle for its plant science–inspired personal care product range, Vita.
Typically, an extrusion-grade polyethylene would be needed in the masterbatch as a carrier for the colorant. That was not an option in this case because of Primal Group’s no-compromise approach to a truly 100% OceanBound product. The high-viscosity material supplied by Envision Plastics is a fractional melt that makes the colorant’s metallic particles without shearing them and ruining the ultimate effect.
“Compounding of the recipe required additional process design to ensure the metallic and pearlescence effect pigments could be smoothly compounded into Envision’s OceanBound plastic,” said Savvas Roubanis, Sales Engineer at Techmer’s Rancho Dominguez, CA, plant. “In the end we were able to fully disperse and develop the color and [receive] approval from the Primal Group.”
Aside from the necessary additives, pigments and non-resin components for a product that both Techmer PM and Classic Containers can process effectively, the balance of the recipe is 100% Envision’s OceanBound resin, Roubanis explained.
Classic Containers was able to process the Techmer PM material and produce bottles within its normal, everyday processing window, which is vital to achieving the desired price point, noted Techmer PM. The resulting bottle demonstrates Techmer PM’s commitment to a clean environment. The company is in discussions with several major brand owners who are interested in offering environmentally focused options to the portion of their clientele that is keen to make sustainable purchasing choices.
Primal Group notes that globally “more than 8 million tons of plastics are dumped into our oceans annually. This is overwhelming, and the environmental impact of this amount of plastic waste in our oceans is immeasurable and far-reaching. We cannot allow our biggest resource, the oceans, to become a dumping ground for plastics and other waste,” said Primal Group.
Finding viable uses for plastics at risk of entering the ocean is just one means of advancing the cause, and Techmer PM said it is proud to have been able to leverage its extensive technical, process and materials design expertise to help Primal achieve its desired end result.