Selenis operates in different areas to decrease plastic pollution, developing products with high recycled content and recyclability, as well as promoting recycling and circularity through the different associations they are part of, such as the Association of Plastics Recyclers.
The company is currently focusing innovation on developing solutions that are fully recyclable in the PET stream. Selenis is in the final development stage of the Weezen® CE resins, which will supply the heat shrink sleeves market with a solution that can be recycled together with the standard PET stream classified as 1 in terms of recyclability, at the end of its lifetime as to contribute to a closed loop economy.
The normal PETG shrinkable films used in labels for bottles and jars can´t be recycled in the PET stream together with the rest of PET packages classified with the recycling code #1. PETG is completely amorphous due to its chemical composition, characterized only with glass transition temperature (Tg) and without the ability to crystallize. Consequently, when mixed with PET flakes at temperatures above its Tg, they will stick together forming hard clumps and decreasing the rPET yield.
Some brand owners have avoided this issue by facilitating the removal of the labels by the consumer, prior to recycling, such as zip-off labels, however this solution depends on the end user’s behaviour.
Selenis embarked on a project to solve this recycling issue with the objective of producing a special PET shrinkable film that does not cause a sticking issue in the final product during the recycling process and can therefore be recycled in the same stream as other PET packages.
The combination of Selenis Weezen® CE resins, allows for the extrusion of heat-shrinkable films that have the ability to crystallize, avoiding clumping issues. This will offer a sustainable solution for the heat shrink sleeve market, as labels produced with this combination of resins can be recycled in the PET stream, without compromising the shrinkage behaviour.
The company’s recyclable solution for the sleeves market is just one example of their efforts in this area, but they have also developed recyclable solutions for other markets where concerns regarding recyclability in the PET stream have arisen, such as the cosmetics and durable goods market.
On the other hand, Selenis has recently announced the scale-up of their ECO resins, a sustainable version of all their product portfolio: all products can be produced with up to 50% post-consumer recycled content.
The company contributes to solving the world’s problem of plastic waste, by taking what would otherwise be discarded and turning it into the building-blocks of their products, used in a variety of applications, such as packaging, cosmetics, personal care, durable goods, and heat shrink sleeves.
The process recovers monomers through chemical recycling. Glycolysis is used to break-up PET waste and reduce it to its polymer building blocks – called monomers. Next, they are reintroduced to the value chain as recycled polyester raw materials. What is unique about Selenis breaking-through technology is that they combine the recycled PET with virgin raw material at specific dosages, according to production throughput and desired percentage of recycled content, resulting in the production of new polyesters with high levels of PCR.
According to their Chief Sustainability Officer, “Our commitment to increasing recycled content in our resin production is part of our Circular Economy pledge. To Selenis, recycling PET is a lot more than keeping PET bottles out of landfill. To us, recycling PET is about creating a valuable manufacturing feedstock that can be reprocessed and used as a raw material in the production of specialty copolyesters. It's upcycling.”
Selenis is using the molecular recycling process at both their plants located in Portugal and Italy. This was made possible by developing ECO products with several customers, proving its efficiency and performance. The company’s goal is to enable this process in all their product lines as they foresee significant global demand as brand owners are increasingly committing to a closed loop economy supply.
Selenis Chief Sustainability Officer believes that “all the improvements taking place in the industry are big steps in the right direction, but there is still a need to step up collaboration between governments, legal entities and the industry. The targets are challenging, if we are to meet them, we need to be aligned globally; hence the need for a UN Treaty on plastic pollution.