Clariant’s New Partnership to Develop PE Compounds Based on Recycled OBP


 Clariant in collaboration with Lavergne has developed halogen-free flame-retardant polyester compounds made from ocean-bound plastic (OBP) waste. With the first grade already commercialized, the advance is supporting demand from major electrical and electronics brand owners for flame retarded post-consumer recyclate grades for equipment parts.

Creating New Uses for Recycled Plastics

The collaboration arises from the Lavergne’s wider mission to create new uses for plastic, in this case polyethylene terephthalate (PET), recycled from ocean-bound waste streams. OBP refers to plastic waste that is recovered from the over 8 million metric tons of plastic currently entering the oceans each year. The first new flame-retardant compound Lavergne VYPET™ OBP-FR has 30 percent glass fiber reinforcement and UL 94 V-0 flame rating at 0.8 mm thickness, which makes it suitable for many electric and electronic (E&E) plastic applications, like aesthetic and structural parts. The fully recyclable OBP-based compound has already successfully passed molding trials at part manufacturers and is commercially available.

Exolit OP Flame Retardants – Contributing to Circular Plastic Economy

Clariant’s flagship halogen-free Exolit OP flame retardants, were chosen for their proven excellent environmental and health profile, as documented by the Clariant EcoTain® label and a GreenScreen Benchmark 3 assessment for the key phosphinate ingredient. Adding to the circularity of the innovation, Exolit OP grades have been confirmed as suitable for various recycling processes without losing their flame-retardant properties. Furthermore, as a contribution to less fossile resource consumption, Clariant announced in October 2019 that selected Exolit OP grades will also become available as ‘Terra’ types, based on renewable carbon sources. Intensive liaison and development work were required by Lavergne’s and Clariant’s experts to develop the right flame retardant and synergist formulation for this resin grade and optimize the processing conditions of the compound. In fact, mechanical properties of OBP recyclates pose specific challenges because the repeated thermal treatment of polymers tends to progressively degrade the material. Because of the original compound’s success, the solution has now been extended to more than a dozen product lines, with each program undergoing additional testing prior to commercialization.

Turing Plastic Wastes into High-end Products

The joint project took more than a year to come to fruition, and both parties are eager to continue their working relationship. “Lavergne is the right place for plastics, not the oceans. We clean the oceans of plastics and turn the plastic wastes into high-end products. I am proud to be a part of Lavergne Green Innovation Team” said Davood Bagheri, polymer scientist at Lavergne. “By using Clariant’s Exolit OP flagship halogen-free phosphinate flame retardants in Lavergne’s recycled OBP blends, both companies have successfully brought to life the potential commercial impact of sustainability! This development reinforces Clariant’s continuing commitment to developing sustainable additives which, through value chain collaboration, can help bring plastics into a circular, more resource-efficient economy,” said Subra Narayan, technical market manager for Clariant flame retardants in North America. Clariant’s collaboration with Lavergne also demonstrates its EcoCircle in action, a corporate-wide initiative supporting the transition from a one-way plastics value chain to a circular plastics economy together with partners from the entire value chain.

Minimizing Carbon Footprint by Using Recyclates

“By using VYPET™ OBP compounds, we help manufacturers to reduce significantly the plastic carbon footprint. And this is only the beginning.” said Yoan Lavergne, marketing manager at Lavergne. The project to develop flame-retardant recyclate grades ties up with the support of major electronics brand owners (OEMs) and their demand for post-consumer recyclates. The use of recyclates is part of sustainability claims by OEMs and is rewarded in ecolabel schemes like the American EPEAT and German Blue Angel.OEMs are also supporting the sourcing of OBP by sponsoring collection and clean-up of waste. Whereas the applications targeted originally were fewer demanding components like packaging trays, the end uses for recyclates are now spreading to other structural parts of electronics equipment., 28 February 2020