Tests Prove HDPE's Recycling Properties
A Further Step towards Sustainability
ESE World has been an expert in the use of recycled plastics for the manufacture of containers for waste and recyclables for over 30 years. Its advanced procedures and processes in the cleaning, additives and processing of the material enables ESE to make products from recycled plastics with the same quality as virgin material. However, one question that has remained unanswered until now was how often HDPE can be processed, ground and reprocessed in injection molding procedures without fundamentally changing the structure and characteristics of the material.
Systematic research on recycled material is more difficult, because the materials available in the market rarely provide definitive statements about origin, initial processing, additives and product use. For future research and development, for the first time, ESE World B.V., Maastricht-Airport, The Netherlands, has created the foundation in a model project under practical conditions.
ESE established a controlled experimental model at its production facility that enabled virgin HDPE to be reused 10 times. The project was led by ESE’s plastics specialist and scientist Jeanett Köhn, PhD.
With the knowledge that contamination from previous production processes, foreign polymers and contaminants from the product use falsify research results and make research practically impossible, Dr. Köhn has designed a controlled experimental setup. HDPE virgin material was the starting point. It was processed, ground and newly processed ten times in the ESE production facilities. After each step, the material was analyzed in cooperation with external research institutions using state-of-the-art methods. Only under these conditions were all the influencing factors known, the behavior of material and additives could be assessed and were used for comparison with other materials.
The test demonstrated for the first time that the injection molding process and shredding of the plastics have, in principle, no property-altering effects on the material over this entire period of reuse. With the service life of containers being around 10 to 20 years, this result means that the availability of material for sustainable production from the same recycled plastic is secured for at least 100 to 200 years.
Udo Fröhlingsdorf, Director of Product Development & Marketing at ESE, is very pleased with the test results: "Decades of developments under production conditions have put us in the position to process and treat recycled material in such a way that the quality of the products is on a par with virgin material. The findings of this series of experiments now allow us to engage in more targeted research and to develop further future-oriented methods."