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Compatibilizers

Compatibilizers are additives that allow two polymer resins to bond and stabilize, resulting in an improved final product. These additives facilitate plastic recycling as many of the plastic blends collected for recycling do not easily mix with or adhere to each other.

Composite plastics, flexible packaging and other plastic materials that are not easily recycled are good candidates for being chemically recycled using compatibilizers. These resins can then be used as secondary raw materials in another product or material, mitigating dependence on crude oil.

Example

DuPont

Situation

  • When two or more polymers are blended together, they often are not compatible with each other.
  • Mixing plastic typically results in lower quality plastic, rendering it too low quality for many end-uses.
  • HDPE recyclers lose about 20% of their yield to poor bale quality (mixed polymers). Losses increase to 40% for PET and 60% for ABS and HIPS type plastics.

Challenges

  • Companies struggle to make the recycling of mixed plastics waste streams viable in performance and profitability.
  • This requires a significant R&D innovation investment, especially given the long lead-time to market.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all compatibilizer for all plastic combinations.
  • Regulatory approval is required when plastics are used in food protection.

Solution

  • DuPont created a range of compatibilizers, Entira® EP, Fusabond® and Elvaloy® to improve the properties and consequently the value of recycled plastics waste streams.
  • Entira® EP allows to create a homogenous recycled resin between PE and PP.
  • Fusabond® and Elvaloy® are successfully used in PA/PE, PET/PE and PE/EVOH recycle waste streams.
  • Furthermore those compatibilizers can be used for upcycling comingled post-consumer recycling streams as illustrated in the Virtuous Circle report coordinated by DuPont in South Africa.(www.thevirtuouscircle.co.za)

Key benefits

  • DuPont’s compatibilizers create economic value for typically undervalued blended plastic sources. Increased performance and surface properties of the material result in higher value applications.