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Essentra Components announces new facility for testing and developing bio and recycled plastics

by | Oct 24, 2023

Essentra Components has announced the opening of a new Centre of Excellence at the company’s headquarters in Kidlington in England. The purpose of the Centre is to test and develop bio plastics and plastics which contain recycled content, in order to assess their performance when they are added to existing resins or used to replace these resins which go into the manufacturing process of plastic components.

The materials which the centre will test include bio-woods, nylon, and polylactic acids (PLA) and they will test these materials using two different methods. With the aim to get the best results out of what the company hope will become circular plastics, they invested in two kinds of injection moulding machines. These are an all-electric machine and a servo drive machine and the purpose of having both is to enable the company to compare results of the experiments and trials, from two very viable options for this process. A servo drive machine is used to deliver power to a motor with feedback designed to accurately control position, speed, and torque in robotic and machine automation systems. Essentra chose to use these machines as it provides them with the ability to study and compare the processes’ ability to save energy under different conditions, whilst also monitoring the impact the machines have on the manufacturing process. Essentra stated that the overall goal of this project is to reduce the amount of plastic waste within the world through reducing scrap rates, accelerating delivery and establishing a more efficient and sustainable process.

Along with these injection moulding machines, the new centre also involves other kinds of technology such as Melt Flow Index (MFI) technology. MFI measures the ease of flow of the melt of a thermoplastic polymer. The facility has been equipped with this as it will enable the centre to predict the behaviour of a polymer throughout the manufacturing process. The benefits of using this kind of equipment mean that Essentra will have the ability to gather and build data to generate a database about different kinds of material and aid them in decision processes around choosing which material to use in the future.

The head of sustainability strategy at Essentra, Jennifer Spence, commented, “We get many requests from customers around the sustainability aspects of our products. The Centre of Excellence will support us in providing that data, including embedded emissions, recyclability, and how a material performs at the end of its life – for example whether the product can be re-used, and whether the materials are widely recyclable or biodegradable.”

The engineering director, Chris Butler, will be placed in charge of managing the facility and he has been provided with a dedicated test engineer. Butler said, “We’ve already made great strides and currently 20% of our global raw materials comprise recycled content. We have a responsibility to make sure that we do everything we can to make plastic components more sustainable for the future.”

After all these new developments Essentra has stated that the next steps within this commitment to reducing plastic waste include ensuring 20% of packaging and polymer raw materials are sourced sustainably by 2025. The company has also become a part of the European Commission’s statistical Classification of Products by Activity (CPA), this means Essentra are now a part of a Europe-wide movement, which is focused on boosting the use of recycled plastics in the market to 10 million tonnes by 2025.

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