MBA Polymers will be attending the Re|Focus: Recycling Summit and Expo in Orlando, Florida from April 25-27. Brian Riise (Director of R&D) will be presenting a paper entitled “PLASTICS Recovered from Shredded End-of-Life Vehicles” on April 26. He will then participate in a panel discussion about how the automotive industry can think about design for recycling and greater use of recycled content.

The Re|focus: Recycling Summit & Expo is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry and will challenge brand owners and processors to “refocus” on product design and manufacturing with an eye toward recycled content, design for recycling and driving sustainability in manufacturing.

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The annual ISRI convention, with over 4,000 attendees, is the largest gathering of scrap and recycling professionals and companies in the world. This year ISRI is holding a special Plastics Summit and Dr. Mike Biddle, MBA’s Founder and Board member was asked to speak about opportunities in the plastics recycling business.

April 4-7 in Las Vegas.

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The EU paper on the action plan for a circular economy starts with the statement that the transition to a more circular economy is an essential contribution to the EU’s efforts to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resource efficient and competitive economy. The intrinsic value of materials and resources should be kept in the economy for as long as possible and to reach this goal the generation of waste should be minimized.

MBA Polymers has been working on creating a circular economy by recycling plastics from e-waste and End-of-Life Vehicles for many years and identified one missing link in the Circular Economy for recycled plastics from these durable products. Richard McCombs – CEO of MBA Polymers: “It is not easy to manage an innovative recycling company like ours if legislation continues to set ever new and tougher threshold values for especially legacy substances. I sincerely hope and expect that this EU initiative for a Circular Economy will not only allow our investments to finally pay off, but also to motivate our shareholders to increase their willingness to invest in this industry that without any doubt offers the society at large huge environmental benefits”.

The return and recycling of the e-waste plastics is taking place. The total recycling of these plastics in Europe however is very limited, despite the hugely positive environmental benefits of keeping these high tech plastics in use. The use of recycled plastics from e-waste for instance requires a different approach to designing products that not only allow for a better recovery of the material, but also allowing the use of Post-Consumer Recycled content. This area will require the designers and recyclers to communicate – the missing link in the current circular economy.

This is particularly important for electrical and electronic products, where a better design can make products not only more durable or easier to recycle, it can also help recyclers to better recover valuable materials and components. Overall, it can help to save precious resources and prevent huge amounts of carbon emissions.

MBA Polymers is more than pleased with the EU objectives with the Circular Economy package in view of actively addressing aspects in future product design related to recyclability and re-application of Post-Consumer Recycled plastics. The plans include comprehensive commitments on eco-design, the development of strategic approaches on plastics and chemicals. This is one major initiative under the umbrella of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research program and it targets actions in areas such as plastics.

With the Circular Economy Package a debate should also be opened around how the environmental benefits of the use of Post-Consumer Recycled plastics can be incentivized by measures such as green public procurement measures or the introduction of financial incentives and rewards for the use of PCR plastics or similar materials.

The proposed actions of the Circular Economy package include exactly the right initiatives to address fundamental issues such as discussions between designers and recyclers to define specifications of Post-Consumer Recycled plastics, re-defining realistic thresholds for legacy substances that do not hamper the recycling industry, the reduction of illegal exports to make these valuable materials available to the efficient recyclers or to take measures to facilitate cross border movement of wastes for good recycling. The current regulatory framework tends to slow down investments, as it creates many uncertainties; the right regulatory framework that is intended by the Circular Economy package will stimulate investments in recycling capacities and improved recycling technologies.

MBA Polymers is eager to participate in these programs, as these will finally eliminate the Circular Economy’s missing link and stimulate the recycling industry.

Article by DI Chris Slijkhuis, E-Waste Recycling – Müller-Guttenbrunn Group

Our R&D Director, Dr Brian Riise, gave delegates at Plastics in Motion – an auto industry event exploring advances in plastics – a clear insight into how MBA creates value from plastic waste derived from end-of-life vehicles. Speaking at this year’s event, held in Dearborn, Michigan, Brian presented a paper entitled ‘Plastics from Shredded End-of-Life Vehicles’ (co-authored with fellow MBA colleagues Peter Mackrell, Ron Rau and Ibrahim Patel). The paper follows on from a workshop on automotive shredder residue (ASR) plastics recycling presented by MBA at the 2008 Plastics in Motion in Prague.

Brian covered MBA’s journey from Mike’s initial research into separating plastic polymers in 1992 to the global organisation we are today, processing 175,000 tonnes of feedstock each year. He highlighted the scale of the ASR plastics recycling opportunity in the US, with up to 15m end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) recycled annually, and approx.150kg of plastic per car (equating to 2m tonnes of plastic per year). After all the reusable parts have been extracted from US ELVs, toxic fluids and batteries have been removed, and ferrous and non-ferrous metals separated, the plastic remains – and is often simply landfilled. The recycling industry estimates that 1.6m of these plastics could be reclaimed annually, he explained.

The environmental benefits of recovering plastics from ASR in the US would be significant. It would save energy equivalent to 28.5 barrels of oil (compared to producing virgin plastic), prevent up to 5.25m tonnes of CO2 from being released and save nearly 40bn gallons of water. It would also save 52.5m cubic yards of landfill space.

However, there are currently some barriers to recycling ASR plastics at scale in the US, Brian explained. Firstly, it has only been possible from a regulatory standpoint for a short period of time. Additionally, more investment is needed, particularly in the technology needed to create high quality secondary raw materials.

He covered MBA’s recycling process, which begins with removing any non-plastics, then separating different plastic polymers. The next stages are purification and blending, then extrusion, vacuum de-gassing and melt-filtration before finally testing MBA’s five recycled plastics (PP and filled PP, HDPE, HIPS and ABS) to ISO standards (all our products also comply with key European regulations: RoHS and REACH). Products made from MBA’s plastics range from flower pots to automotive parts to coffee machines.

Brian finished by sharing MBA’s efforts to continuously improve its processes and products, and outlined the need for industry to design plastic products with recyclability in mind. Overall, although the talk was well attended, Brian noted that there’s a need to create more awareness among the automotive industry generally about the opportunities to prevent waste and create closed loop systems by recycling plastic from ASR.

Some 120 scientists and engineers from across the automotive and plastics industries attended, as well as academics and materials specialists. The three-day conference featured technical and commercial sessions covering areas such as light-weighting of automotive components, novel processing and manufacturing techniques, new plastic materials, advances in structural composites, and the environmental implications of plastics in cars.

For more information on how MBA Polymers transforms plastic waste (from waste derived from ELVs, electronics, construction and more) into valuable raw materials, please visit our website.

Thanks go to Robert Damuth of Nathan Associates Inc for the recycling volumes and benefits figures from his paper Economic Impacts and Environmental Benefits of Separating, Sorting, Processing, and Recycling Plastics in the Automobile and Appliance Shredder Aggregate (December 2010.)

Our founder Mike Biddle once again took to the stage at the Plasticity Forum this year. Speaking with his trademark enthusiasm and infectious energy, Mike shared MBA’s impressive carbon emissions savings with a packed room of plastics industry professionals, business leaders, academics and government officials in Cascais, Portugal.

Through his presentation, ‘Untangling systems for streamlined material flow’, Mike explained that replacing virgin plastic with MBA’s recycled plastic generates carbon savings of approximately 150,000 tonnes per year. This is due to the fact that it takes 80% less energy to produce MBA’s recycled plastic versus virgin plastic, and equates to savings per employee of about 500 tonnes annually.

Mike compared these savings with those generated by other industries such as packaging and logistics (1 tonne of CO2e per employee annually), and other companies such as Coca-Cola Enterprises (2 tonnes of CO2e per employee annually), highlighting the significant difference in carbon savings that we’re achieving.

“We aim to create a sustainable future for plastic, and cutting carbon emissions is just part of that,” explains Mike. “We’re helping to keep plastic out of landfills and away from the oceans, and contributing to the creation of a circular economy where materials are kept in use for longer, conserving natural resources.”

Mike Biddle talking at Plasticity

Forging creative dialogues

Throughout the two-day event, delegates engaged in creative discussions on embracing the business opportunities presented by innovative materials, smarter packaging and product designs, waste reduction and harnessing plastic waste as a resource. This year’s event covered four major strands: designing for circularity, customer engagement, reverse supply chains and reaching scale.

Mike joined a distinguished speaker line-up including Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader of the Dow Chemical Company, Willem de Vos, CEO of the Society of Plastics Engineers, and Andrew Morlet, chief executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The keynote address, delivered by Morlet, focused on scaling collectively for the circular economy. The Foundation has just launched a new report entitled ‘Growth within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe’, which suggests that a circular economy could allow Europe to grow its resource productivity by up to 3% annually, generating benefits of up to €1.8tn per year by 2030.

Delegates also heard about a new ‘plastic-to-fuel’ report produced by the Ocean Recovery Alliance and the American Chemistry Council. The report claims that plastic-to-fuel technologies stand to deliver economic and environmental benefits to communities worldwide. Also on the agenda was designing plastic bottles that can be up-scaled into roof tiles in developing communities, making building bricks from hard-to-recycle plastic waste and cultivating plastic from algae in the fish farming industry.

Andrew Russell, Director of the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), spoke about plastic reporting as a tool for driving circularity. Together with UNEP and Trucost, the PDP launched a report in 2014 encouraging businesses to convert plastic risk into opportunity by reducing their plastic footprints and helping to prevent the estimated $13bn of environmental damage caused annually by ocean plastic waste.

Commenting on the Plasticity Forum, Russell said: “The mandate for Plasticity to envision and create a sustainable future for plastics – where material is maintained as a resource after its initial use – is a huge challenge, but one which people at this event are actively addressing, and that is exciting.”

“I continue to be impressed with the level of creativity and energy brought to the ‘big discussion on the future of plastics’ by my colleagues – old and new – and I look forward to working on developing solutions that will enable plastic to realise its full sustainability potential,” Mike added.

This year’s Plasticity Forum took place alongside the Economist’s World Ocean Summit and Portugal’s Blue Week. Now in its fourth year, Plasticity Forum was launched at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and assembles a dynamic cross-section of thinkers in a collective discussion on innovating to create a sustainable future for plastic.

We’re delighted to have been honoured as a finalist at the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards for the second year running. We were recognised in the ‘Collaboration’ category for our JV partnerships with EMR in the UK, Guangzhou Iron & Steel Enterprises in China and Müller-Guttenbrunn in Austria. Together, we are transforming 135,000 tonnes of plastic waste into high quality secondary raw materials each year, diverting waste from landfill, conserving natural resources and accelerating the transition to a circular economy.

Guardian Sustainable Business Awards spread

To read more about our collaborative work in the Guardian, please click here.

MBA Polymers’ founder Mike Biddle is set to speak at the upcoming Plasticity Forum in Portugal on 8th June 2015. He will address the topic of ‘Untangling systems for streamlined material flow’. Mike will join a distinguished speaker line-up including Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader of the Dow Chemical Company, Willem de Vos, CEO of the Society of Plastics Engineers, and Andrew Morlet, chief executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

The Plasticity Forum unites decision makers, innovators, brands, international associations and policy makers in a collective discussion on the future of plastic. In particular, the event is a great opportunity for creative thinking on how best to embrace the business opportunities presented by innovative materials, smarter packaging and product designs, waste reduction and harnessing plastic waste as a resource.

This year’s Plasticity will take cover four major strands: designing for circularity, customer engagement, reverse supply chains and reaching scale. The forum is part of a global series of events in Portugal, encompassing the Economist’s World Ocean Summit and Portugal’s Blue Week, focussing on innovating to protect the oceans and catalyse socio-economic benefits by adopting more sustainable business practices.

“Plastic doesn’t need to be a problem,” says Doug Woodring, Founder of Plasticity. “There are solutions out there to stop it from becoming waste, but we’re not focussing on them in a scalable manner. The aim of Plasticity is to show who’s already doing it, how you can do it, and how to commercialise it for the betterment of business, the environment and our communities.”

Now in its fourth year, the Plasticity Forum was originally launched at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to help elevate the discussion around plastic pollution at major environmental events. For a full round-up of this year’s agenda, please click here.

The videos of Mike’s presentation and panel discussion at Vancouver’s 2014 Zero Waste Conference are now online. Click here to hear Mike sharing his journey to becoming a circular economy entrepreneur by figuring out how to ‘sort the unsortable’ and founding MBA Polymers, now a world leader in recovering plastics from end-of-life durable goods. You’ll also be able to hear his thoughts on the global journey to zero plastic waste in a regenerative economy.

Mike will be speaking again at this year’s Zero Waste Conference, which takes place in Vancouver on 29th October 2015. He’ll join speakers from organisations including Lego, Philips, Interface and WRAP to add his voice to the debate on harnessing the power of innovation and collaboration to catalyse action on waste.

Follow #ZWC15 for more information or visit the ZWC website.

We’re thrilled to reveal that MBA has reached the shortlist of this year’s 2degrees Champions Awards for our work in giving post-consumer plastic a new lease of life as valuable raw materials. We’d like to invite you to help us bring home the 2015 ‘Zero Waste’ crown. The awards are peer-voted and anyone with membership to #‎2degreesAwards‬ can cast a vote.

This is the third annual edition of the 2degrees Champions Awards and there are some great entries in multiple categories, including some innovative circular economy initiatives – from closing the loop on polyester to generating renewable energy from chip fat.

Don't forget your tickets

Here’s our personal pitch for the Zero Waste category:

We’ve proved that recycling plastic is both possible and commercially viable. For example, we’re helping our JV partner EMR to lead the world in end-of-life vehicle recycling by recycling 99% of each vehicle that comes through its doors, beating the EU’s 2015 target of 95%. We’ve shone a light on the potential for developed nations to keep the value of waste in their own countries rather than exporting it to China. Our efforts are contributing towards the development of a circular economy in which end-of-life plastics are transformed into new products. We’re helping to keep materials in use for longer, reduce manufacturers’ dependence on natural resources and save energy. Using 100 tonnes of an MBA Polymer product saves 400 tonnes of CO2 versus virgin plastic and 200 tonnes of waste from being sent to landfill – enough to fill 14 double-decker buses!

To view our entry in full and cast your vote, please click here

MBA Polymers’ very own ‘plastics pioneer’, Dr. Mike Biddle, is the subject of a short film celebrating his role in the revolution that will help future-proof the use of plastics.

The film is part of the ‘Big SHFT series’ which focuses on 10 American environmental trailblazers whose innovation and passion is helping create a more sustainable future for us all. Dr Biddle’s film celebrates his foresight and persistence in ‘cracking the code’ of how to separate complex plastics waste so that it can be recycled and re-used to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly supply of plastic.

The film charts his progress as a thought leader in the plastics field, right from his epiphany when while working in high-end plastics he realised that “we’re going to run out of the stuff to make our stuff…There has to be a way to re-use these plastics.”

Despite the obvious validity of these concerns, his desire to challenge the idea that plastic couldn’t be recycled was not greeted with enthusiasm. The huge challenges inherent in recycling complex plastic waste meant that many were sceptical about whether it was even possible. When Dr. Biddle went to his then bosses and explained that he thought the company should be exploring how plastics could be recycled, he met with an unenthusiastic response, with one manager quipping that the company “didn’t hire a PhD in Plastics to work on garbage”.

Undeterred by such scepticism, Mike decided to go it alone and to start “testing everything on the planet”, admitting “It took faith, because we didn’t actually know how we were going to do it.”

Following extensive testing and investigation, Mike and his team discovered that by deploying a range of techniques seen in everything from food processing to mining technology, it was possible to separate complex plastic waste so that it could be recycled and used again in a way that could create a useful plastic product for industry which was of a consistently high quality.

A new life for plastics

Talking about his work Dr. Biddle comments: “We believe we’re giving materials a new life. When we first started working on this, plastics recycling across the world stood at less than five per cent. What a waste of valuable resources”

Thanks to the work of Dr.  Biddle and his namesake company, such valuable resources need go to waste no longer. MBA Polymers is now a world leader at producing post-consumer recycled plastics from end-of-life durable goods and is making a huge positive impact on the environment.  By diverting post consumer plastics from landfill or incineration, the business now saves 80 per cent of the energy required to create new plastic and between one and three tonnes of CO2 for each tonne of virgin plastics it replaces.

Dr. Biddle’s film is one of a 10 part documentary series presented in conjunction with the Ford Motor Company and hosted on SHFT’s website, a multi-media platform founded by film producer Peter Glatzer and actor and filmmaker Adrian Grenier. The website aims to celebrate more sustainable ways of living through showcasing video, design, art and culture.

Discussing the films Adrian Grenier commented: “Innovation is not dead in America, but it’s not just about innovation in industry. It is about innovation of the heart and the spirit. You’ll find a lot more social entrepreneurs cropping up in America these days. We’re very excited about that. Those are the types of stories we want to highlight.”

Other environmentalists featured in the SHFT series include Van Jones, a lawyer and activist who is America’s leading advocate for green jobs and Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse, the ‘queen bee’ of the sustainable food movement in America.
View the video here