Wednesday 26 January 2022

Sustainability in the Plastics Industry – An Overview and Definitions


Example for recycling - LDPE (REC80) plastic bag: it is made 80% out of old PE sheets. 

Hello and welcome to a new blog post. Today we discuss sustainability in the plastics industry, starting with an overview and definitions.

Please check out my video on this topic too, accompanying this blog post:

What is Environmental Sustainability?

According to Michel Biron [1], environmental sustainability is a tripod based on environmental requirements, economic growth (creating sustainable products which are efficient, cost efficient, and beneficial), and social progress (including fair labor standards).

Sustainability: a  tripod based on environmental requirements, economic growth

In business, sustainably is more and more defined as a goal, which needs to be reached in a certain amount of time. In addition, the concept of sustainability can be extended to the health impact of products and materials. In this concept, unsustainable solutions can be easier identified than sustainable solutions, since the product or material negatively affects human (or animal or plant) health. Linked to sustainability in the industrial surrounding is economic sustainability, which refers to the ability of a company to survive in the long-term. Avoiding higher costs is one of the base rules for plastics manufacturers and processors.

What does sustainability mean for an industrial company?

On the one hand, there are direct activities such as manufacturing operations that are under direct control of the business and allows implementing directly measurable sustainability goals. On the other hand, there are indirect activities connected to the upstream and downstream of the business supply chain such as freight costs, and energy production. The indirect activities can result in a major footprint to a business and can be even much larger than the direct one.

Circular Economy

In our current linear economy setup we produce, use and dispose of products, putting pressure on the availability of natural and fossil resources as well as pollution. Circular economy puts the emphasis on producing goods out of recovered materials, using them and recycling them to gain the maximum out of the product after the usage phase. All over, the circular economy is an essential piece for better sustainability.

Plastic manufacturing and processing companies are increasing their efforts to enable a plastics circular economy. Creating bio- and recycled based products supports this effort. Advanced plastics recycling, which is using chemical or molecular recycling is speeding up too. Technological, economic, and policy uncertainties are the biggest challenges for plastics companies to move forward in this area. Integrated energy and plastics company OMV created with ReOil® a technology which converts post-consumer and post-industrial plastics to synthetic crude oil and petrochemical feedstock which can be used for virgin plastics production again [3].

There are more and more initiatives such as Cyclyx drive up recycling rates [2]. Currently, only about 10% of plastics are recycled.

Sustainability in the Plastics Industry – where to put the focus?

Biron [1] identified six major areas to put the focus on when implementing a sustainability concept. Sustainable design challenges designers to find the best balance between durability, performance, energy saving, carbon footprint reduction, and recycling. There will be questions such as “Should I use natural sourced polymers which consume water and fertilizers or fossil based polymers which consume crude oil?” This brings us to the second area: renewable polymers. In order for bio-based polymers to succeed, their raw material must not compete with food, use less net water, be energy efficient, together with using renewable energy and emit less greenhouse gases. In addition, they should be less polluting and lead to a smaller carbon footprint during the whole life cycle.

Sustainable manufacturing as the third area covers a process step integration to save energy, focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Are four, the use phase, shows the full potential of plastics. From insulation foams which save energy for heating and cooling devices, houses, and many more, to light weighting in automotive and other transport vehicles. Packaging is a major contributor since it enables to extend the lifetime of fresh food.  

Area 5 is waste management, including repairing, reusing and recycling. In addition, the sixth area described the economic involvements. Sustainably solutions may lead to an economic advantage. However, it can also result in extra costs, which will challenge the customer to accept them. Therefore, the challenge is to offer sustainability solutions at competitive pricing in the end.


Overall, creating a sustainability concept is a step-by-step progress toward the best possible sustainability in your company and we see more and more promising approaches by different companies in the year 2022. I am curious how this will evolve beyond 2022.

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Herwig Juster

Check out my other posts on environmental impact of polymere here: 

Interested to talk with me about your plastic selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
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Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) for Electric Vehicles (xEVs) - check out my new online course


[1] M. Biron: An overview of sustainability and plastics, Elsevier, 2020



Tuesday 18 January 2022

Guest Interview: Max Funck from PlastFormance – “Our patented technology for innovative plastic compounds allows for high filler contents - up to 80% vol.”


Hello and welcome to this guest interview. Today I present to you Mr. Max Funck from specialty compounder PlastFormance. We have the chance to learn about their highly filled compounds to enhance high conductivity (thermal, electrical) and radiation shielding.

Enjoy the interview!

1.         Tell us about yourself, your current role, and about PlastFormance.

Hello Herwig, first of all thank you for featuring us on your blog – we have been following along for quite some time and really appreciate your content. My name is Max Funck and I’m in charge of the operations and business development at PlastFormance. Our startup was founded in 2018, based on a patented technology for innovative plastic compounds. The technology allows us to combine extremely high filler contents (up to 80% vol.) with superior processability in injection-molding.

2.         What is the production technology you developed, what are the challenges and how does your solution look like?

Compared to current compounds on the market we also mix additives, filler particles and polymers – just with significantly higher amounts of filler particles! With an increasing amount of metal or ceramic fillers, the compound inherits the relevant physical properties. For example, our TC compound shows a high thermal conductivity while maintaining electrically insulation. PlastFormance has found ways to address the two limitations in the field: processability and cost. We use a special set of additives which allow a chemical pre-bonding between the particles. In addition, our chemist has developed a system to increase the flowability of the mold significantly. Under injection molding pressure, the melt increases volume and fills smoothly the mold cavity. Since we can reach higher filler contents than the competition, we can also use less expensive filler particles. For example, our thermally conductive compounds fully forego the use of boron nitride.

3.         What are the performance advantages compared to incumbent compounds?

Over 10 years of experience in selection of filler particles allow us to come close to the maximum possible filler content. Since the filler particles are of spherical shape, the relevant physical attribute (e.g. thermal conductivity) is present in all directions of space. Whereas incumbent compounds usually only achieve a higher thermal conductivity in-plane, our materials show an isotropic behavior. The achieved integral conductivity allows for heat dissipation in all directions of the technical component (e.g. heat sinks).

4.         Tell us about the compounds you produce, in particular the TC series, EC series, and RS series? What are the performance attributes?

The PlastFormance technology is broadly applicable and allows for a wide variety of filler-polymer combinations. The TC (thermally conductive) series is primarily used for heat-dissipation tasks – it combines high thermal conductivities of 3-15 W/mK integral with electrical insulation. Based on a special set of graphite types, the EC (electrically conductive) materials offer high thermal conductivities and electrical conductivities. In a recent comparison, the electrical conductivity of our compound even outperformed pressed graphite plates! To me the most fascinating material comes out of our RS series (radiation shielding). We use the heavy metal tungsten as filler to create injection-moldable parts with densities up to 15 g/ccm! Next to its shielding properties of gamma radiation it is simply mind-blowing to see such a heavy material popping out of the injection-molding machine.

5.         What are some application examples and markets you can use such compounds?

Many trending technologies such as electric mobility, fuel cells and microelectronics require innovative and smart material solutions. A sensor housing does not only need to provide moisture protection. It also acts as heat sink, electric insulator and EMI shield. PlastFormance can provide multifunctional solutions while maintaining the design freedom and cost efficiency coming along with injection-molding. In many housing or heat sink applications we offer a smart alternative to die-cast zinc. When it comes to radiation shielding, our materials replace toxic lead in containers used for dismantling nuclear power plants. The radiation shielding products are designed, molded and assembled directly next door in our sister company.

6.         How is the processing of such highly filled compounds? Which processing methods can be used? What are some benefits?

The company roots go back to injection-molding. Our CTO Helmut Aicher is an experienced injection molder and makes sure that every material we create is easy to use with a sufficient processing window on standard injection-molding machines. We have put lots of effort into reducing the abrasiveness to a minimum and we recommend to use equipment for glass-filled plastics. As we are growing, other processing methods have gained more attention. At the moment a team of university students is running trials with additive manufacturing.

7.         What are some of your success factors?

Obviously, we are highly focused on technology at the heart of the company. A close collaboration with our sister company allows us to cover the whole value chain from product idea, to CAD models and simulations, tool-making and injection-molding of final parts. Our customers appreciate the high paste, which we operate in daily. Besides the rather technical features it is really the diversity in our team that drives success.

8. Where can the readers find out more about you and the compounds of PlastFormance?

Feel free to surf our website or reach out directly to us!

That was the guest interview with Max from PlastFormance – thank you Max for the interesting insights into the specialty compounding world!

Greetings and #findoutaboutplastics


Interested to talk with me about your plastic selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
You can support me here on  PayPalMe
Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) for Electric Vehicles (xEVs) - check out my new online course

Monday 17 January 2022

Chemical and Plastics Industry: What Are Some Major Trends To Watch Out For In 2022?


Trends of Chemical and Plastics Industry in 2022

Today in this blog post we look at what is ahead in 2022 in terms of trends to watch. The chemical and plastics industry is on the path of recovery in 2022. However, clouds in the shape of rising energy and raw material prices, inflationary pressures, spread of Omicron (Covid-19) and supply chain disruptions continue to darken the sky.

To counterbalance the energy and raw material costs, companies will probably lower their capital investments and expansions. The global GDP growth is expected to be 4.3% in 2022 (5.6 % in 2021).

Major transitions of the global economy

Business leaders have to steer their companies through several transitions this year. One is the transition from a pandemic to endemic Covid-19. Another is the switch of central banks from fiscal stimulus policy to restraint policy expressed due to raising in interest rates and stricter credit conditions.  In addition, the transition from a hydrocarbon-based energy to a renewable energy supply will be a challenge for major corporations.

Long-term trends which push demand in plastics and specialty materials (2020-2030)

The switch from internal combustion engine cars to alternative powertrains such as electro and hydrogen will bring new plastic compounds to the market covering new requirements such as electromagnetic shielding and stringent flame ratings, together with sustainability aims.

Robotics and automation will further push the borders in polymer processing, allowing to manufacture complex injection moulding parts.

3D-printing continues to be improved, both from hardware as well as from material side (heat transfer materials).

In addition, fluoropolymers can be seen as an enabler to support the realization of the digital megatrends such as  the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G standard, AI, blockchain and the Metaverse (check out this post with more details).

Other trends which shape the plastics industry are the challenge to speed up advanced recycling and the circular economy, together with creating a sustainable future.

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics


Herwig Juster

Interested to talk with me about your plastic selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
You can support me here on  PayPalMe
Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) for Electric Vehicles (xEVs) - check out my new online course


[1] HIS Markit

[2] Amercia Chemistry Councel (ACC)



Monday 10 January 2022

Global Warming Potential (GWP) vs. Thermal Properties of Thermoplastics

Hello and welcome to a new post. Today we continue with the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of thermoplastics. In a previous post I presented the GWP of different plastics vs. their density. In this post I show the GWP values of thermoplastics compared to their different thermal properties and transitions: Tg, heat capacity (Cp), short term temperature exposure (HDT) and long term temperature exposure (UL Yellow Card). This allows for a better assessment of the different GWP values in relation to the resin properties.

Allover, there are five major environmental indicators, which can have an impact on our surroundings (check also my previous post on this topic):

-Global Warming Potential (GWP, 100 years)

-Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)

-Acidification Potential (AP)

-Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP)

-Eutrophication Potential (EP)

In addition, energy consumption, water footprint, dust/particulate matter and non-hazardous / hazardous matter can be considered too. Furthermore, it is important to consider the whole lifetime of a plastic part and GWP will be one of the parts supporting polymer material selection decisions.

GWP of thermoplastics vs. glass transition (Tg)

GWP of thermoplastics vs. short-term temperature impact (HDT)

GWP of thermoplastics vs. long-term temperature impact (UL RTI)

GWP of thermoplastics vs. heat capacity (Cp)

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics



Interested to talk with me about your plastic selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.
New to my Find Out About Plastics Blog – check out the start here section
You can support me here on  PayPalMe
Polymer Material Selection (PoMS) for Electric Vehicles (xEVs) - check out my new online course



[2] Korea LCI database;

[3] Ecoinvent database


[5] Valox PBT

Monday 3 January 2022

Publicly Traded Materials Stocks - 2021 Performance and Outlook

Hello and welcome to the first post of this New Year 2022!

Materials companies were hit hard in 2021: from supply chain disruptions due to Covid-crisis, the North American winter storm (“Uri”) resulting in force majeure at chemical companies in the Texas region, the Suez Canal blockage after the grounding of Ever Given and global inflation (Eurozone around 4%; North America around 7%).

However, looking at the financial markets, things were booming. The S&P 500 finished 2021 with a gain of 27% for the year and the NASDAQ composite increased 21.4% in 2021. The Vanguard Materials Index Fund ETF made also 26% in 2021. Altogether, the 11 main sectors were up double-digits (Energy sector + 46%, Real Estate +41%, Technology +33%, Financials +32%, Consumer Discretionary +27%, Utilities +14.1%, Consumer Staples +14.3%, Communication Services +15.1%, and Industrials +19.5%).

How did the 30 major material stock companies perform in 2021?

25 out of the 30 stocks could make gains for their shareholders (date of estimation: 02.01.2022) and this is seven more compared to 2020. AdvanSix (Nylon 6 producer) and Rogers Corp were in the lead with high double digit gains and above.

Performance of 30 major material stocks

As in the beginning already pointed out, inflation is on the horizon worldwide and prices need to be balanced, together with optimizing the assets. Demand on resin products will keep going, despite new Corona-variations. The industry has already two years’ experience to deal with this pandemic scenario making them more confident to handle the upcoming demands. 

Also interesting to see where analysts see the potential this year: Energy, Communication Services, and Technology (62%) are on the buying list. Consumer Staples, Utilities, and Financials have a more bearish buying outlook.

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics





[2] Factset Earnings Insight