At the beginning of 2020, as we move into the next decade, ensuring sustainability and closing the loop towards a circular economy are major areas of focus for plastics manufacturers and others across the plastics value chain. At Milliken our achievements in 2019 have helped these ambitions move a step closer to becoming reality, as well as delivering exciting product growth, placing us at the forefront of efforts to ensure that plastics contribute to a better future.
Helping Our Customers Help the Environment
Sustainability at Milliken is at the heart of our strategy and we began 2019 with the announcement of an exciting new partnership with PureCycle Technologies, as it moved forward in its plans to open its first plant, in Ohio in the U.S., to restore used polypropylene (PP) plastic to 'virgin-like' quality with a revolutionary recycling method. PureCycle’s patented recycling process, developed and licensed by P&G, separates color, odor and other contaminants from plastic waste feedstock.
In this beyond concept method Milliken’s additives will play a critical role. “The PureCycle recycling process pulls everything out and then Milliken’s food safe additives are going to be needed for brand owners to have the exact same performance and aesthetics that they are used to with virgin polymers,” said Allan Jacoby, Vice President for Milliken’s Plastic Additives business.
This was just the first step in 2019 in Milliken’s ongoing mission to help customers reduce their impact on the environment. Our Millad® NX® 8000 clarifier for polypropylene became the only additive to date to receive critical guidance recognition from the Association of Plastic Recyclers, a U.S. national trade organization whose efforts are aimed at identifying and eliminating barriers to successful commercial recycling. This prestigious recognition for innovative materials validates that Millad NX 8000 is compatible with plastic packaging recycling.
Further, UL Environment & Sustainability, a unit of the global Underwriters Laboratories, confirmed in November that it had certified that four grades of Milliken Chemical’s Hyperform® HPN™ enabled an average of 5-8 percent energy savings for firms that injection mold thin-wall container lids or similar PP products, another step along the path to a greener future.
Innovation with Inspiration
Continuing to push sustainability boundaries, Milliken introduced Millad NX 8000 ECO in Europe at K 2019, one of its most sustainable products yet. The market leading Millad NX 8000 product range produces the fully transparent material known as NX UltraClear™ PP yielding durable end products with superb, glass-like clarity. The Millad NX 8000 ECO version offers faster production rates, average energy savings of 10% for the production of clarified PP parts certified by the UL label, tunable clarity to meet specific market needs and the low risk of defects such as white specs, streaks and voids.
In October, Milliken unveiled the newest product in its family of DeltaMax™ Performance Modifiers - DeltaMax 5000a. The existing technology allows injection molders to make stronger parts using more efficient manufacturing parameters and source a broader range of raw materials. This latest addition is designed to expand use of the additive into all market segments, including food packaging, “DeltaMax 5000a will allow resin producers to expand the performances of their resin portfolios and to boost their productivity by increasing the throughput of their reactors,” said Emily Blair, Milliken’s global product line manager.
Milliken’s 2019 product innovations also came with a splash of brilliant colors with the launch of KeyPlast RESIST™, a spectrum of bright, high-performance colorants for engineering plastics. These products are specially designed for coloring Engineering Polymers such as Polyamide, PolySulfone, and other high heat polymers and alloys.
Unprecedented global demand for Milliken’s Millad® NX® 8000, due to its performance and sustainability benefits, promoted us to boost production capacity by 50% and expediate the construction of a new production facility in South Carolina, in the United States, by two years. In April, work began on the largest clarifier plant in Milliken’s history. It is due to begin operations in 2020 and will further boost capacity of what has been described as one of the most successful products in the history of plastic additives, and arguably the most important in the past 30 years.
And, in an announcement demonstrating Milliken’s ongoing commitment to growing markets in Asia we revealed plans for a new manufacturing facility in Singapore, including a state-of-the-art specialty chemical plant and knowledge center, set to open in early 2021. The facility will expand our chemical manufacturing footprint to support rapidly growing markets including India and China.
Looking Forward to the Next Decade
We are proud of our achievements in 2019 and of our place at the forefront of the journey towards a New Plastics Economy. Just as in 2019, Milliken’s “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos will be at the centre of our sustainability thinking and technological innovation throughout the next decade, driving our sustainable growth and the shift towards a circular plastics economy and a safer future.