PET Foams - closing the loop

PET Foams – Closing the loop

 

THE STORY OF A BOTTLE

The plastic bottle in our story is one of the more than 16,000 sold every second around the world. This bottle is not one of the millions that end up in a landfill or somewhere in the environment, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Our bottle is reborn. The story of our plastic bottle is about switching from the conventional ‘make-take-dispose’ economy to a circular model based on ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’. It’s about closing the loop in plastics production.

We are innovating to boost sustainability and working towards a circular model. Reusing our plastic waste is one way for us to improve our environmental footprint.

 

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Message in our bottle

The message in our bottle

 

SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES TO SINGLE USE

Single-use plastics are a major eco-challenge. One leading English language dictionary declared ‘single use’ to be the Word of 2018. Fortunately, there’s a growing awareness among many consumers that the ‘grab-go-throw’ behaviour of past decades has to stop.

Our bottle started life as a beverage container. Once empty, it was thrown into a litterbin or may have been returned to a retailer’s collection point. That’s where our bottle’s story takes a turn. It was collected for recycling and forwarded to an Armacell plant in Thimister-Clermont, Belgium or Brampton, Canada. And from 2020 potentially to Armacell’s Chinese plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.

The message in our bottle? There are sustainable alternatives to single use.

 

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Ready for recycling

Ready for recycling

 

OUR BOTTLE IS REBORN

Our bottle is now ready for recycling by Armacell, the pioneer of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) technology. It’s one of a billion PET bottles Armacell already recycled for production purposes. Decades of R&D have made Armacell the leading innovator in PET foam technology and sustainable development, the inventors of a technology enabling PET foam products made entirely from recycled beverage bottles.

Our little hero started life as a single-use PET bottle and is reborn as a long-lifetime, high-value foam core material for composite structures. This is how the conversion takes place:

1. PET bottle collection.
2. Sorting and crushing into flakes.
3. Inhouse granulation process.
4. Extrusion foaming operations.
5. Use-phase in a variety of applications.

Closing the loop. Today, we are recycling plastic bottles into PET foams, discovering and analysing new sources of recycled PET, maximising the collection of internal scrap and returning it to our production process. Living a new and second life – like the PET bottle in our story.

 

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Put to good use

Put to good use

 

OUR PET FOAMS PORTFOLIO

You wouldn’t recognise our PET bottle any more. Just look at the useful, high-value foams it’s been converted into. ArmaForm Core structural foam boards for composite sandwich application. ArmaForm Foil extruded thin flexible sheets for thermoforming application. ArmaShape particle foam for 3D shaped foam parts on industrial scale. Click here to find out more about our products.

Our bottle is put to a wide variety of uses in its second life. Read more about it on the next page.

The sustainable factor. Today, the sustainability of individual components is becoming a compelling argument in the materials selection process. The trend of designing environmentally friendly composite structures that are light, strong and recyclable has led industrial designers, specifiers and composite manufacturers to replace traditional core materials, such as Balsa, SAN, PUR or PVC with Armacell’s PET foam cores. And Armacell’s R&D specialists are continually striving to develop more innovative products with a sustainable future.

 

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From bottle to bullet train

From bottle to bullet train

 

PET FOAMS IN ACTION

Our recycled PET bottle’s second life is an exciting one. Following the conversion into a structural foam core, it is utilised in a wind turbine, walkway, surfboard or high-speed train.

100,000 rotor blades globally. ArmaForm is used in sandwich structures for rotor blades, nacelles and spinners of wind turbines. Did you know that more than 50,000 PET bottles are required to produce the quantity of ArmaForm foam core required for the three 50-metre-long rotor blades of a 3MW wind turbine?

58,000m2 of roof. ArmaForm was installed as the core material for the structural roof panels of the King Abdullah Railway Station in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – a surface area of 58,000m2.

Five gilded domes. ArmaForm was used as a core material in the five gilded domes of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris, France. The domes were manufactured off-site and it took 15 minutes to put the largest dome, spanning 12 metres in diameter, in place by crane.

One very fast train. ArmaForm is found in the nose of the CRH3A bullet train connecting the 700km distant cities of Chengdu and Xi’an in Western China in less than four hours. The CRH3A’s success put an end to flights between the two cities and reduced the carbon footprint on this route.


We are striving for a circular model where plastic waste is designed out and products kept in use longer.

 

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Good for our planet

Good for our planet

 

OUR BOTTLE'S ECO-BALANCE

Our PET bottle is proud of its eco-balance. With a little help from our unique recycled PET foam technology this bottle delivers more than 33% CO2 emission savings compared to foams made of virgin PET. Such positive effects are amplified when compared with other polymeric foams. PVC foams, for example, would typically double CO2 emission levels.

By reusing 1,000,000,000 PET bottles in our foaming process we have saved more than 40,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to the emissions of around 41,000 flights from Brussels to New York.

 

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ARMACELL'S GOT BOTTLE

Armacell's got bottle

 

THE PLASTIC WHALE AND OTHER PARTNERSHIPS

If our bottle had been thrown into one of Amsterdam’s famous canals, it might well have been fished out by a Plastic Whale. This sustainability initiative organises boat trips along Amsterdam’s grachten in vessels made of our recycled PET foams. The photo shows a team of Armacell employees and distributors fishing for plastic.

Closing the loop. The Plastic Whale story is about closing the loop in plastics production. After all, plastic bottles are converted into an ArmaForm product that is used to build a boat that collects plastic waste. Having started in The Netherlands, the Plastic Whale team is today aiming to involve people around the globe to collect plastic waste and turn it into amazing products. And Armacell is right at the heart of this.

Sustainability partnerships. Armacell has entered into multiple EU-wide and global partnerships to improve the sustainability of plastics. For example, we are a research partner in the EU-funded PlastiCircle project to improve plastic packaging waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling rates across Europe. And we are part of the PlastiCircle network to find new opportunities for post-consumer PET sourcing and its conversion into full-value products. We are also a partner in Operation Clean Sweep, a global product stewardship programme aiming to drive best practices in plastic material loss management.

Sharing technology. As another way of contributing to higher recycling rates beyond our own production, we are sharing our technology by granting licenses to other PET foam producers in the composite industry to drive and accelerate adoption rates by operating Armacell’s patented process technology in their manufacturing. Opening our unique technology to others ramps up Armacell’s contribution to a greener tomorrow.

What can you do to reduce plastic waste? None of us can save the world on our own. But every step on the way helps – step by step to create a greener future.

 

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