Interface Polymers secures LOI and POC commitments for its Polarfin® additive technology to recycle mixed plastic waste

Since starting up in early 2016, Interface Polymers Ltd. has been developing game-changing solutions to surface and polymer matrix compatibility issues associated with polyolefins using its unique, patented di-block copolymer Polarfin® additive technology. The R & D team has successfully developed di-block additives for use with virgin and recycled polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) based masterbatches, compounds, filled polymers, and sheet and film products. Compatibilization products are increasingly being used to enhance product performance, improve processing, reduce costs and solve recycling challenges for a variety of plastic applications in the packaging, construction, agriculture and automotive market sectors.

More recently, Interface Polymers has been working closely with a number of companies across the supply chain looking to utilise mixed plastic waste, such as PE and PP with EVOH/ PA/ PET/PS, in preference to disposal in landfill or incineration. Two key recycling projects have made major technical breakthroughs. As a consequence, the company has now secured a Letter of Intent (LOI) agreement and a Proof of Concept (POC) project commitment with leading industry players.

The LOI agreement is with a company which manufactures synthetic fibres and textile fabric products for industrial and domestic applications. The POC feasibility project is with a major producer of multilayer plastic packaging film. Both projects are focused on developing viable PE and PP products formulated with Polarfin additive which utilise currently unrecyclable mixed plastic packaging waste; a key aim is to create new products with at least 30% recycled content. Once commercialised, these projects will provide both companies with a greener product offering that will be more acceptable to manufacturers, retailers and consumers actively wanting to use more sustainable materials.

LOI textile application using PP/ PE mixed plastic waste

The LOI project with the synthetic fibre and fabric producing company is looking to incorporate a PE/PP waste stream into a polar polymer for use in a wide variety of commercial and domestic textile products. The fabric producer has been evaluating various recycling options, but up to now all other additives tested were unable to be processed. By adding Interface Polymers’ novel Polarfin di-block technology, the technical issues are being overcome. Ongoing trials are proving that PE/PP mixed waste can be efficiently reprocessed on existing equipment and recycled or even upcycled into higher value products.

The project aims to divert thousands of tons of mixed waste plastic materials from landfill or incineration so that it can effectively be reused. The final outcome is to provide a commercially attractive, circular economy recycling solution, which will significantly benefit the environment in the future.

POC for recycling multilayer plastic packaging film

A second project has resulted in a POC for the recycling of multilayer plastic film from packaging applications back into multilayer film without significant loss of properties. Critically, the Polarfin additive, even at low addition levels, has been shown in trials to eliminate gels, which are visual defects which also disrupt production and reduce productivity. Gels are a very common problem for polyolefin films using recycling mixed plastics, which up to now has restricted their recyclability.

Simon Waddington, Business Development Director for Interface Polymers commented: “We have successfully demonstrated that both recycling and upscaling polyolefin mixed plastic waste into higher value products is possible using our Polarfin additive technology. We and our partners are very excited to fully commercialise these new recycling opportunities, which are doubly beneficial to the environment by helping producers to reduce overall energy use and their carbon footprint, as well as diverting currently unrecyclable mixed plastic materials away from landfill.”

Chief Executive Officer, Dominique Fournier added: “With latest UK Government legislation at policy paper stage to introduce a new tax from April 2022 on any plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled plastic, the commercial viability and financial incentive for companies to take advantage of our innovative di-block additive to recycle mixed plastic waste becomes even greater. Anyone interested in our di-block technology should get in contact as we are actively looking to develop our investment partners further.”

Interface Polymers continues to push the innovation boundaries by using its Polarfin additive as a tailored dispersion to overcome polyolefin interfacial incompatibility and enhance performance properties by improving polar particle/fibre matrix adhesion and polymer chain entanglement. Polarfin additives can easily be incorporated into a formulation and used with existing polymer conversion processes, such as extrusion, injection or compression moulding, with no need to modify existing production equipment. This new additive technology is offering companies new opportunities to significantly improve the performance, cost competitiveness and recyclability of polyolefin-based materials.

Polarfin® is an internationally patented technology and registered trademark of Interface Polymers Ltd.