Tuesday 1 February 2022

Design Properties for Engineers: Mechanical properties of PCR, PIR, bio-based, and mass balanced plastics

Hello and welcome to a new post where we discuss mechanical design properties of polymers with reduced environmental footprint. In this past post, I gave an overview on the sustainability of the plastics industry.

Let us start with some definitions

  • PCR = Post-Consumer Resin: ISO defines PCR as “material generated by the end-users of products that has fulfilled its intended purpose or can no longer be used (including material returned from within the distribution chain).” In this category fall consumer packing such as bottles, buckets, films, as well as industrial packaging (IBC totes). Recycling those used packages can make new plastic products.
  • PIR = Post-Industrial Resin: ISO defines PIR as “material diverted during a manufacturing process”.
  • Bio-based content = refers to the amount of biomass in a product; it considers four key elements (EN 16785-1): carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen; expressed as percentage of overall weight of product;
  • Bio-based carbon content: focus is on the carbon; expressed as percentage of the carbon the product contains (ASTM D6866 and EN 16640);
  • Mass balance method: when both recycled and virgin feedstock were used in the manufacturing process, this method helps to determine the use of recycled content in the final product. The total inputs should be balanced with the outputs.

Environmental benefit overview

In case, one of your requirements during polymer material selection is to lower the environmental impact of the final product, then apart from the technical benefits of the plastic compounds, the environmental benefits need to be understood. As we learned before, it is not easy to have a direct grade comparison, since the final compound can have PCR or PIR only, a mix of PIR and PCR, or just using recycled glass fibers.

Therefore, I listed below the environmental benefits of each of the selected compounds below: 

  • ALTECH PA66 ECO 2030/116.01 GF30 (PA 6.6-GF30): contains high load of post-industrial recyclates (PIR)
  • Borcycle™ UF582SA-90 (PP): 55% post-consumer recycled content (PCR)
  • Bornewables™ RF365MO (PP-CoPo): bio-based; renewable feedstock using the mass-balance method.
  • EMERGE™ PC/ABS 7590E60 (PC/ABS): contains up to 95% post consumer recycled (PCR) polycarbonate.
  • Rilsan® PA 11 BMNO (PA 11):  material is derived from 100% renewable carbon (castor oil basis).
  • Green Isoter® B30 100 AS UV GR2509 (ABS) contains around 50% post industrial recycled (PIR) ABS.
  • Omnix® ReCycle HPPA 6050 (HPPA-GF50): minimum of 33% recycled content, consisting of 70% PIR/PCR recycled resin.
  • LNP ELCRIN W10001iQ (PBT): contains up to 60% recycled weight content.

Property data (density vs. tensile strength, modulus, and elongation at break)

Property data of plastics with reduced environmental footprint: tensile strength vs. density

Property data of plastics with reduced environmental footprint: elongation at break vs. density

Property data of plastics with reduced environmental footprint: tensile modulus vs. density

Thank you for reading and #findoutaboutplastics



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[1] https://www.mauserpackaging.com/de-DE/Site-components/News/News/041621_PCR_-What-is-It_Benefits

[2] https://www.findoutaboutplastics.com/2021/07/biopolymers-difference-between-bio.html

[3] https://www.positiveplastics.eu/

[4] https://www.solvay.com/en/brands/omnix-hppa/omnix-recycle-hppa

[5] https://zerowasteeurope.eu/2021/03/mass-balance-approach/#:~:text=Mass%20balance%20is%20a%20set,be%20balanced%20with%20the%20outputs.

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