Plastics industry braces for US infrastructure bill

The plastics industry is positioning itself – and in some cases is poised – to win a share of the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by the US Senate in a bipartisan vote on September 7. The bill aims to rebuild crumbling roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, and fund new climate-resilient projects as well as broadband initiatives.

While the bill is likely to be delayed when it goes to the House for approval, where it is expected to meet opposition from some Democrats who believe the bill is not broad enough, it will still provide opportunities for some manufacturers of plastics in transport and infrastructure. sectors.

The Plastics Industry Association is a supporter of the bipartisan bill, “which includes key provisions to improve waste management and replace aging lead pipes with plastic pipes,” President and CEO Tony Radoszewski said . “The waste management arrangements will improve our country’s recycling infrastructure as well as consumer participation. The legislation provides financial support for a recycling infrastructure subsidy program created by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which was enacted last year. The bill also includes wording from the Recycling Act, which sets aside funds to increase consumer education and participation in the recycling system.

Several global entities have recently announced new sustainable initiatives that have strong links with the building and construction and infrastructure sectors.

A “concrete” impact on plastics and construction

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a global non-profit organization, and the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC), a South African company founded in 1997, announced on September 14 a partnership to develop a conversion system. -recycle plastic waste into a concrete additive used in building and construction applications. CRDC will develop a 14,000 square foot production facility in York, Pennsylvania to increase capacity. The company will also expand its existing production facility in Costa Rica to a full-scale sales capacity of 90 tonnes per day when it is fully operational by mid-2022. (The video shows the Valle Azul sustainable housing project in Costa Rica, a collaboration between CRDC, Habitat for Humanity, Dow and local organizations.)

When completed, the two facilities will be able to process up to 24,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year, CRDC said. They will accept all types of mixed plastic waste, which would otherwise be sent to landfill or incinerated, to produce RESIN8 concrete additive, which is suitable for making concrete blocks and pavers, precast concrete and cast-in-place concrete. . . Concrete products made with RESIN8 are up to 15% lighter or stronger, depending on their use, with up to 20% better insulating properties than traditional concrete, depending on the company. Concrete using RESIN8 has been used by Habitat for Humanity to build housing in Latin America.

“CRDC Global is proud to partner with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste to put circularity to work by increasing the production of RESIN8, a product that has a positive impact on the plastics and construction industries,” said Donald Thomson, President and Founder of CRDC Global. “RESIN8 was designed by and for the construction industry as a functional step towards net-zero. We’ve spent years in research and development to make sure we have a process that can be quickly scaled up to help solve the plastic waste dilemma.

Renewable raw material reduces carbon footprint of polypropylene sewer lines

As part of another sustainable infrastructure development, two European companies recently introduced new polypropylene sewer pipes made of over 50% raw materials from certified renewable raw materials, reducing the carbon footprint of the product up to 70%. Uponor Infra Oy from Finland and Borealis from Austria said their Ultra Rib 2 Blue guarantees high performance and over 100 years of service while maintaining existing quality standards and certifications.

Image: Uponor
Uponor Infra and Borealis have collaborated to create a gravity plastic pipe with a dramatically reduced carbon footprint.

The specifications of the Ultra Rib 2 Blue are the same in terms of properties and performance as its standard Ultra Rib 2. The pipes are manufactured in the Uponor factory in Fristad, Sweden, which is International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS) certified. The product uses Borealis Bornewables, a circular polyolefin product made from renewable raw materials, which offers the same material performance as virgin polyolefins. As part of this certification, customers receive a sustainability statement for the amount of renewable raw material with their delivery of Ultra Rib 2 Blue following the mass balance approach.

CO reduction2 footprint is obtained by partially replacing fossil raw materials with renewable raw materials derived from waste and residue streams unfit for human consumption and traceable to its first collection points. The chain of custody created by ISCC PLUS certification ensures that Borealis’s Borealis portfolio and Uponor Ultra Rib 2 Blue meet ISCC PLUS’s high sustainability standards, the companies said.

Data transparency is at the heart of Ultra Rib 2 Blue and the Uponor Blue line of sustainable offerings, Uponor said. To help organizations achieve their sustainability goals, the products are supported by independently verified data.

EPS builds energy efficient homes

Also in Europe, better insulation of buildings is a key objective of the “European Green Deal”. Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of total energy consumption, according to Ceresana, a market research institute that focuses on plastics, chemicals, packaging and industrial products. The European Commission calls for a “wave of renovation” to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EU countries are expected to invest around € 200 billion per year to modernize the energy systems of homes and public buildings until 2030, Ceresana said.

Manufacturers and processors of expandable polystyrene (EPS), a popular insulation material, are benefiting from these initiatives to improve energy efficiency, the company said. The demand for PSE in 2020 was around 6.59 million tonnes.

EPS is a light, strong foam that can easily be shaped and is marketed under brand names such as Styropor or Airpop. The versatile material consists mainly of air and expanded polystyrene, with the addition of flame retardants and other additives, such as graphite. About 53% of the EPS market is devoted to construction products. Other uses include hard hats, life jackets, drink cups, and casting molds. The construction industry uses this low cost material to insulate against heat, cold and noise in new and old buildings. Its main competitors are glass and rock wool, but insulation materials made from renewable raw materials are becoming increasingly popular, Ceresana noted.

Japan, South Korea and some countries in the Americas also have ambitious climate protection targets for buildings. In Asia Pacific and the Americas in particular, EPS is not only used for insulation materials, but is also widely used for packaging seafood and electronics. The packaging segment accounts for over 40% of the total demand for EPS worldwide. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for about 57% of global demand for BPA in 2020, according to Ceresana. Per capita demand for PES packaging is increasing, particularly in emerging and developing countries.

The fourth edition of the market study, “Expandable Polystyrene – EPS”, can be purchased on the website Ceresana website.

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