Milliken and PureCycle create the first fully sustainable concentrate for PP on the market

The first fully sustainable concentrate for PP

Author : Aaron Griffin

Three years ago, Milliken’s work with PureCycle was described as one of the industry’s most cutting-edge partnerships. It had joined with the company to support and grow its patented recycling process, developed and licensed by The Procter & Gamble Co., that separates color, odor and other contaminants from polypropylene (PP) waste feedstock to transform it into ultra-pure, virgin-like resin.

Now, in what’s seen as a sustainability game-changer, at a joint press panel at K2022, the world’s number one trade fair for plastics and rubber, Milliken and PureCycle Technologies unveiled the next step in their shared 2019 vision – the first fully sustainable concentrate for PP, based on a recycled resin carrier.

19_mil2208220086 ECO PureCycle container

This new concentrate will change the face of plastic recycling, allowing for greater use of 100% recycled content, enabling 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 launching a new class of concentrate solutions based on PureCycle resins and our first product is a concentrate containing our Millad NX 8000 ECO clarifier,” said Wim Van de Velde, Global Vice President of Plastics Additives at Milliken.

And why is this so special? “This solution is the first on the market to truly provide the customer with a totally sustainable additive package combining the following three things: through the supply of PureCycle resins, a true recycled PP-based resin; the concentrate itself, which is typically added in a 1 -2% let down ratio, also derived from a recycled PP source, and; our Millad NX 8000 ECO clarifying agent, allowing for lower temperature processing and on average leading to 8% energy reductions confirmed by the UL label,” Van de Velde continued. “The combination of these three factors allows for a completely sustainable solution that enables a lower energy use and a lower carbon footprint --- which is unique in the industry today.”

Traditionally, mechanical recycling has had the lowest carbon footprint, however today full circularity is the biggest issue with this approach – the two key reasons being issues around food contact and transparency. The PureCycle technology is FDA approved for post-consumer resin (PCR) and overall, PureCycle resins allow for a 35 % lower greenhouse gas footprint and a 75% reduction in natural energy resource compared to virgin resins. This puts the technology on a much better advantaged carbon footprint versus chemical recycling via pyrolysis.

“For a start-up company like ours with ground-breaking technology, we needed Milliken’s help to get out of the box. Working with Milliken, PureCycle has become an extremely unique, fully sustainable solution, offering a no compromise product portfolio for customers that delivers high quality polypropylene resin for a wide spectrum of applications,” said Dustin Olson, Chief Executive Officer of PureCycle Technologies. “To us, a no compromise solution means our customers do not have to adjust their operations to work with our product. That's different compared to many mechanical recyclers,” he continued.

Growing to scale is a continuing challenge and PureCycle is currently growing its production capabilities. In addition to completing its first plant, in Ohio in the United States, the company will install two lines at a new plant it is building in Georgia and is also establishing a partnership in South Korea. There are plans for another partnership in Japan.

“Our global growth is good for the planet and good for consumers,” Olson said. “We have a special product that can change the world of recycling, and we are executing on our strategic plan to deliver this product to the world, because the world needs it.”

The PureCycle partnership aligns with Milliken's global and overall strategy. From a technical perspective, replacing virgin resin with PureCycle-based resin as a carrier resin reduces Milliken’s scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. From a strategic perspective, working in collaboration helps to drive faster change and impact.

“By realizing these partnerships, the plastic industry will be successful in being sustainable and together we will be able to make a change. We fundamentally believe in working together to make impactful change and combining our technologies and innovation allowed us to bring something game changing to the market that will make a big impact in improving sustainability in PP,” added Van de Velde.

“We're partnering together because we're both technical leaders in the industry with an aligned vision. It was a strategic alliance with an aligned vision. The customer wants real solutions with real impact and a pure solution. The Milliken/PureCycle partnership delivers that,” he concluded.


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