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New additives offer recycling boost for PP and PE

A major challenge for plastics recyclers – the degradation of products during their lifetimes – could be overcome thanks to new research by German scientists.

Plastics are typically subjected to thermal oxidation and photo-oxidation during use, often causing enough damage to prevent them being recycled into high-quality products.

However, adding new stabilisers has improved the properties of polyolefin recyclates, especially those made of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). The stabilisers are said to be capable of reducing the effects of previous damage to such an extent that recycled materials can be processed into sophisticated moulded products.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt has undertaken joint research with specialists at L. Brüggemann, based in Heillbron, which manufactures high-performance additives for engineering.

Fraunhofer says the new stabiliser systems have the potential to pave the way for the production of recyclates with processing properties and long-term heat stability similar to those of virgin material. Brüggemann will adapt the stabilisers to the requirements of customers and markets, provide technical application advice and take over large-scale production, quality assurance and worldwide marketing.

‘With its many years of comprehensive experience in the field of polymer additives and its worldwide market penetration, Brüggemann is the right partner to bring our ideas for the upcycling of plastics to market quickly,’ says Dr Rudolf Pfaendner, head of the plastics division at Fraunhofer.

Dr Klaus Bergmann, head of polymer additives at Brüggemann says the company’s is based on continuous development. ‘Ultimately, our goal is to significantly improve the quality of recyclates with the help of innovative additives, thereby making an important contribution to the upcycling of plastic waste.’

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