Sunday 11 February 2024

Practical Examples on Sustainability from Plastics Industry: Polyamide-based plastic waste recycling - the new DIN SPEC 91481 standard, PA 6 textile-to-textile recycling, and bio-based High Temperature Polyamides (PPA)

Hello and welcome to a practical example on sustainability from the plastics industry (check out here the downgauging of PE-films in plastic garbage bag applications). Today we discuss three recent examples on Polyamide recycling and bio-based Polyamides. Let us start with the new DIN SPEC 91481 standard which aims to handle Polyamide recyclates along the value chain (from manufacturer over processing companies to OEMs) in an easier way. 

Example 1: What is the DIN SPEC 91481 and how can it help to advance recycling?

DIN SPEC 91481, is a new standard for recycled plastics, and has been introduced by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN). Based on data quality norms for usage and digital trading, the standard specifies requirements for the classification of recovered plastics and polyamide-based plastic waste. The goal of the standard is to facilitate the trading of polyamide recyclates by producers and processors. A group of 19 academic and business organizations, including Cirplus, the biggest internet marketplace in Europe for recycled plastics, worked together to create the standard. 

The standard includes requirements for Digital Product Passports (DPP) for waste and recyclables, definitions that improve clarity in waste-to-product-to-waste value-chains, Data Quality Levels (DQLs) for plastic recycles and waste feedstock, and suggestions for data collection, processing, and transmission throughout the entire life-cycle. The new standard is based on the methodology developed in DIN SPEC 91446, and is  adopted by the Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA) too.

In terms of material selection for projects where your OEM or customer demands the usage of a recycled Polyamide, this standard will support you in the material comparison phase as well as sourcing phase. 

Example 2: Polyamide 6 textile-to-textile recycling is advancing too

Recently BASF and Spanish cloth manufacturer Inditex have launched loopamid®, a polyamide 6 (PA6) made entirely from textile waste. This innovative technology breaks down textile waste into monomers, which are then repolymerized to create new PA6 fibers and materials. Zara has incorporated loopamid® into its jackets, demonstrating its "design for recycling" approach. This move is a significant step forward for the fashion industry, in order to reduce tehri environmental footprint. 

Figure 1: From waste to new clothing: Polyamide 6 textile-to-textile recycling is advancing and shows commercial applications [2]. 

Example 3 - Bio-polyamides: advancement in bio-based high temperature Polyamides (Polyphthalamide PPA)

Another example is from Cathay Biotech which has developed a one-step bio-based high-temperature polyamide (Polyphthalamide PPA) preparation method, claiming to reduce polymerization time to less than 1% of conventional methods. This technology allows for controllable product melting point adjustments within the 290-310°C range. They have also produced a high-performance bio-based thermoplastic fiber composite with high glass fiber of 70 wt%, delivering environmentally conscious solutions in logistics, transportation, new energy, and construction fields. 

In the past I made a five blog post mini-series on bio-Polyamides: 

Part 1: PA 5.6 and 5T (Chemical Structure, Production, Properties, Applications, Value Proposition)

Part 2: Short and Long Chain Aliphatic Polyamides (PA 6, PA 11, PA 6.10, PA 10.10)

Part 3: Sustainability Facets (Bio Sourcing, LCA, Certifications) and Example Polyamide 6.10

Part 4: Application of Bio-Polyamides in Different Industries

Part 5: Performance Review of Short- and Long-Chain Aliphatic Homo- and Copolymer Bio-Polyamides

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics


Herwig Juster 

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