Enhancing plastics with Color, Care, Clarity and Performance. Together.

July 15, 2019 by Herrin Hood

Milliken at K 2019: Plastic additives enhancing sustainability through science and chemistry

As stakeholders throughout the plastics industry value chain work towards advancing the circular economy, there is a need to understand how we can all increase our use of recycled plastic, boost re-use of end-products, cut greenhouse gas emissions, contribute to better recycling, reduce energy use and limit plastic waste during production. Milliken takes a holistic approach to help tackle these challenges and our plastics additives and colorants are helping to reduce plastic pollution and increase responsible manufacturing in a variety of ways.

“Waste reduction and the recycling of plastics are necessary megatrends impacting today’s consumer products sector,” said Herrin Hood, Global Marketing director of Milliken’s Plastics Additives business. “As we all work to limit excess plastics use, support the recycling of polypropylene and move toward a circular economy, Milliken is fully supporting these efforts with sustainable technological innovations that impact color, care, clarity and performance.”

Taking care to enhance the planet

As a member of the plastics industry’s long-standing Responsible Care initiative, at Milliken we are not only constantly working to advance the sustainability of our entire product portfolio, but also helping customers to lower their carbon footprints, reduce dependence on single-use plastics with more durable and recyclable alternatives for plastics, and reduce overall plastic waste.

In an exciting initiative, we’ve partnered with Chicago-based PureCycle Technologies to advance the closed-loop recycling of polypropylene (PP) resin. Using technology developed and licensed by Procter & Gamble Co., by 2021 PureCycle plans to open its first plant employing a patented recycling method that restores “virgin-like” quality to waste PP resin. This will enable the recycled material to become truly circular, and be reused in its original application, as opposed to having to be downcycled into lower-value products. We are also continuing to forge partnerships with other global sustainability organizations in order to advance circular-economy initiatives.

“Milliken has clear priorities to help create a circular economy for plastics,” Hood added, “improving the recyclability of plastics for our customers, replacing single-use plastics with durable reusable plastics and increasing the use of biopolymers by developing products that boost performance and aesthetic properties will help create a more sustainable plastics industry as we work to create a positive impact on the world.”

Enhancing plastics with clarity

Milliken’s industry-leading Millad® NX™ 8000 clarifier for PP resin –– a key component in nearly 80 percent of the world’s clear PP today –– not only transforms polypropylene into a lightweight, crystal-clear alternative to glass, but also boosts its sustainability by enabling converters to process the material at a lower temperature, resulting in both faster cycle times and energy savings for injection molders. Grades are available that have been optimized for various processes, including injection molding, thermoforming and blow molding.

Additionally, brand owners who use the NX™ UltraClear™ PP resin can display a UL Environmental Claim Validation (ECV) label on their injection molded plastic packaging to illustrate their dedication toward a circular economy and toward the all-important aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These proven benefits are driving strong demand for the additive, prompting us to build a world-class clarifier plant - our largest such facility ever - that will boost Millad NX 8000 capacity by approximately 50 percent when it opens in 2020.

By enabling clear, transparent, Millad® NX™ 8000-modified PP to replace alternative materials, brand owners and converters improve their options for producing more recyclable, mono-material products.

Enhancing the performance of plastics

Several Milliken additives improve the performance of the polymers they modify, including Hyperform® HPN™ nucleating agents for both PP and polyethylene, which is easy to use and improves the performance of recycled polypropylene (rPP). It enables the production of stronger, lighter parts, increasing stiffness significantly when compared to conventionally nucleated PP. It also aids processing productivity and offers balanced and tuneable properties.

Our latest grade, Hyperform HPN 715 offers new opportunities for PP to replace more-expensive engineering resins in demanding applications. Hyperform HPN 715 delivers an optimized balance of various key factors, while also providing higher heat-deflection temperatures compared to other advanced nucleators. This allows PP to be used in microwaveable containers, under-hood vehicle components, and in household appliance parts.

Milliken’s DeltaMax™ performance modifiers for PP, meanwhile, help contribute to a circular economy by enhancing the impact strength and flow properties of rPP resins, blends and polypropylene impact copolymers (ICPs).

The DeltaMax melt-flow modifier can raise melt flow by as much as five times while maintaining impact and stiffness properties. This allows converters to increase operating efficiencies and create more innovative part designs with easier flow through molds. DeltaMax technology also is highly effective in modifying post-consumer and post-industrial recycled resins. It elevates impact strength and melt flow to the same levels as –– or better than –– those of virgin resin. This enables compounders and converters to incorporate up to 100 percent recycled PP without sacrificing performance or processing.

Additionally, our ClearShield™ UV Absorber gives the ultimate protection from damaging UV light to PET packaged materials such as food, beverages and consumer products, extending the shelf life of packaged materials, protecting brand image and allowing more sustainable formulations with natural colorants, flavors, and essences.

Enhancing plastics with color

Our KeyPlast® colorants for plastics are versatile products that can be used by liquid and solid masterbatch producers, resin producers and compounders, and are suitable for use with a wide range of polymer and resins systems. These include PET in transparent, food-contact applications, as well as other transparent amorphous polymers such as polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), acrylic (PMMA) and polysulphone (PSU). These KeyPlast colorants –– which enhance the visual appearance of virgin polymers –– deliver stable, reproducible colors.

Visit us at K 2019 from Oct. 16-23 at our booth (Hall 6/A27) to discover how our advanced plastics additives and colorants are helping the cause and we welcome you to a joint Milliken and PureCycle media event in Room 8 of Congress Center South on Friday, Oct. 18, at 10:00 am.