Jim Zechinati explains how MBA’s Engineering team collaborates with customers to deliver enhanced performance characteristics, and shares his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for a global recycling company in a fast-moving world.
1. Could you describe your role and responsibilities at MBA Polymers?
As Director of Engineering, I’m responsible for overseeing the efforts of MBA’s Engineering team. We provide technical support to MBA’s three recycling plants in areas including R&D, product development, process development, plant engineering, capital projects and customer technical support.
2. How does MBA work with its customers to tailor the characteristics of their products?
Our raw material derives from a broad range of plastic-rich waste streams. Our first challenge is to make highly pure polymer grades with consistent properties suitable for a great many applications. These include various grades of ABS, PS, PP, PE, filled PP, and now PCABS. When our customers require diverse performance characteristics, we work closely with them to develop products that meet their needs. Often, this means developing additional processing steps or property-enhancing additives. The MBA Engineering Team formulates any additives and tests the plastics at the customer’s facility. In this way, we have formed close working relationships with many large manufacturers and brands.
3. Could you share an example?
One major manufacturer uses our polymers to produce office equipment. In some of its latest applications, our materials have been approved for large visual parts that require a Class A molded surface. Historically, these applications would be reserved for virgin resins, but through our process development efforts, we have been able to achieve the exceptionally high purity required to fulfil this requirement.
4. What plastics recycling challenges do you face and how are you working to overcome them?
Plastics recycling is a rapidly evolving industry in an ever-changing business landscape. The challenges we face include price competition from virgin resin made with cheap oil, changes to laws such as China’s Green Fence, consistency in raw material quality and pricing from our source suppliers, and customer requests for improved product performance. To maintain our competitive edge, we continuously improve our plant efficiencies and identify cost-cutting opportunities. Similarly, we embrace the opportunity to exceed customer expectations and differentiate ourselves by providing exceptional products and customer service.
5. What are your ambitions for the business?
I believe there are tremendous opportunities for MBA to grow as a leader in the plastics recycling industry. Major manufacturers need resin supply partners capable of providing large volumes of consistently high quality recycled resins on a global basis. MBA is one of the few companies able to deliver this. Additionally, we can leverage our technical advantages and global plant locations to serve our customers and expand the use of post-consumer recycled polymers throughout the world.