Sustainability a Top Priority at Avient
A report on the outlook for the chemicals industry in 2022, just published by Deloitte, notes that a critical area of focus for most US chemical companies next year will be sustainability and decarbonization. Hmm. I think we’re already there, guys. Sustainability was front and center in many of the conversations I had last month at Fakuma, the plastics processing trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. In fact, it was almost all that the chemicals companies and materials suppliers wanted to talk about with the media, at least. For one, Deborah Sondag, Senior Marketing Manager, Specialty Engineered Materials, at Avient was single-minded in steering the conversation to the ways in which Avient has embraced sustainability.
From the start when PolyOne acquired Clariant Masterbatch and formed Avient in June 2020, “it was two innovators coming together with sustainability ambitions,” said Sondag. Avient outlines those objectives in an infographic, the “Sustainable Solutions | 8 Ways Guide” shown below. The sustainability toolbox includes lightweighting, a reduction in energy consumption, lowering emissions of volatile organic compounds, supporting recycling and the use of recycled content, enabling a sustainable infrastructure, and developing biopolymers. A more substantive initiative, I thought, was Avient’s investment in Cycle Works in Italy.
“The reality is that sustainability has many components,” said Sondag, “and Cycle Works is a demonstration plant that lets us mimic real-world recycling in a research environment.” Tests conducted in the lab will help customers overcome the challenges of plastics recycling and advance the circular economy, said Sondag.
“This high-tech facility will allow our dedicated team to understand the chemistry of polymers in the mechanical recycling process, and to see how and where problems occur,” explained Dr. Jan Sültemeyer, Avient’s Global Head of Innovation & Sustainability, when the facility opened in November 2020. “For example, why and where are polymer chains degrading? What role do color and additives play in recyclability? It is our goal to find answers to these questions and to understand the science behind recycling,” said Sültemeyer.
At Fakuma, Avient showcased its reSound NF bio-filled polymers, which use up to 25% of a plant-based filler to reduce the material’s carbon footprint while achieving the aesthetic and performance requirements specified by the customer. Polypropylene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene are the standard polymer bases but other polymers can be considered, depending on customer needs.
An early adopter of the new materials is Turkish toothbrush brand Difaş, which worked with Avient to develop toothbrush handles, combs, and hairbrush handles that use natural filler while also offering high-end colorability and durability.
“The new bio-filled polymer from Avient has enabled us to reduce the carbon footprint of a range of our products by reducing the consumption of petroleum-based polymers,” said Cevdet Yüceler, Difas owner and Chairman of the Board. “This has enabled us to work toward our sustainability goals, while bringing new competitive solutions to the market.”