On Wednesday, May 27th, Dr. Gayatri Keskar was joined by Manuel Rendon, Co-founder, Chairman, & CEO of Timeplast™ for a discussion titled Solving the Plastic Waste Problem – part of our free webinar series.
The conversation brought up a lot of questions. Dr. Andrew Dent responded to a few and Mr. Rendon addressed others. You can view them below. To provide some context, please review the full replay found here.
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What is the difference with the Carbios innovation?
Manuel Rendon: Carbios doesn’t have an application for the manufacturing of new plastics, only for the recycling stream. Disintegrating a plastic while making a product is truly challenging, plus creating it in a way that can maintain its recyclability and thermomechanical properties is something we have specialized and taken a lead on above all competitors.
Does this solvent recycling work with filled or multilayered plastics? on printed films?
Manuel Rendon: Yes it does.
Can you work with polycarbonate?
Manuel Rendon: Yes we can.
Cleaning up the ocean then burning the plastic to fuel ships and emitting CO2 sounds like fixing a problem with another problem?
Manuel Rendon: It wouldn’t be plastic to fuel, it would be plastic to wax and then to energy. There’s a huge difference in burning plastic from burning wax. Any mechanism to clean the oceans would use fossil fuels, which generate a much worst scheme of green house gases. Not to mention that leaving the plastic in the oceans pollutes the fish and other sea life related live organisms that overall has a greater impact in the food chain thus our planet.
Going deeper… in terms of things like impact protection made from plastics (helmets, for example). Would your process affect compressive strength and the reliability you get from raw materials when impacted in case of an accident?
Manuel Rendon: Not at all, on the other hand we would improve virgin properties in terms of reliability.
Can this process be applied to materials intended to be used in durable goods? Rubbers, etc.?
Manuel Rendon: Yes, it can be used. We actually encourage durable goods made through Timeplast.
Polyester makes up about 60% of fibres in fashion, recycled polyester is increasing, but there are limitations in sourcing feedstock, particularly with blended pre and post-consumer textile waste. Can Timeplast address this sector? If so, how?
Manuel Rendon: We would substitute your material with a sustainable copolymer that’s cheaper, it has a higher quality and much more recyclable and environmentally positive.
Did I understand Manuel correctly when he said, use waste as combustable? Is burning sustainable?
Manuel Rendon: Burning plastic isn’t, burning wax is a much different scenario.
Where in the fashion value chain, from textiles to packaging, might Timeplast be able to make the greatest impact in reducing harmful plastic use in that industry?
Manuel Rendon: Absolutely, neutralizing plastic waste is the core of our technology.
You’ve mentioned it’s difficult to use Timeplast with nylon. Given that the fashion industry is the world’s 2nd largest polluter, can Timeplast work to reduce the harmful effects of plastic use at any point in the fashion value chain?.
Manuel Rendon: Yes, we believe we can offer a substitute that’s feasible in terms of the economics and quality. When presented with our approach all boxes will be check, it all comes down to the willingness of the fashion industry to embrace change.
Plastic pollution seems more of a societal problem than a material problem. You need lots of people to recycle correctly for it to be successful. Would earth nourishing packaging, designed to be thrown away work better for our societal habits?
Manuel Rendon: Not at all, actually if we misplace large amounts of any material, including water, we would be generating a huge environmental impact. So no materials should be left unattended in large quantities, including plastic of course.
I don’t understand plastic as “over engineered.” What would be the optimum way to engineer it?
Manuel Rendon: Depending on the final Molecular Weight, a bio-based plastic can be much more detrimental to the environment, given the fact that it requires a much higher amount of energy to be manufactured, using a food source which is morally counterintuitive, plus they achieve in many cases the exact same structure as fossil-based plastics.
I hear there are major strides taken in the recyclability of PET. We are told it is almost like unscrambling the eggs. Can you expound upon this?
Andrew Dent, Ph.D.: I’ll take this one but the others may want to weigh in. We can mechanically recycle PET, which is just grinding it up, or we can do it chemically. This allows the resin to be ‘unscrambled’ as you say. It is more costly, and fewer are doing this but it offers infinite recyclability and no reduction in performance. We will see more in the future.
Can Timeplast products be compounded with fillers from hemp, lignin, or other bio materials?
Manuel Rendon: Yes we can use Timeplast with several others components, including bio-based. We just need to tailor our solution for that application.
Can you explore Hemp Plastic as an alternative to conventional plastics?
Andrew Dent, Ph.D.: Yes, and some are. It has some limitations, but so did all plastics when they were first discovered! These need some development time and investment, but offer some real potential. There are also plastics from many other plant raw materials – avocado, corn, sugarcane, castor beans, lignin from wood etc.
Are you seeing any development from “Ghost Nylon” harvested from the ocean?
Andrew Dent, Ph.D.: Yes. many organizations are recycling these. The plastic is better if chemically recycled so the degradation from the sea is lessened. You can already buy products from these materials. They are not always called ‘ghost’ though. Just ocean plastics.
How good are bio-plastics really in comparison to conventional single use plastics, in terms of functionality and sustainability?
Manuel Rendon: In terms of sustainability, there are almost no differences, since most bio-based plastics have about the same chemical structure and molecular weight as their fossil-based counterparts, plus they use much more energy to be produced.
How does the reduction of MW work with heat stabilization? Mechanical and thermo properties change considerably when MW changes. Is this only for room temp applications?
Manuel Rendon: One of our major discoveries was the MW reduction with a zero correlation to IV loss or any other thermomechanical property.
Is this the same as the Pyrolosis process? Are you going back to feed stocks?
Manuel Rendon: No, pyrolisis creates toxic gases such as dioxins, we don’t approach the flash or burning point of plastic, only its melting point. We use a much lower temperature than those in pyrolisis.
The Japanese research on Idealla sakaensis breaking down PET was published in 2016. But Timeplast patent was filed in 2014. How can Manuel Rendon reconcile this in terms of their applying that knowledge to create Timeplast?
Manuel Rendon: In most cases, a technology can’t be represented by a single patent, we began our journey with a chemical approach to Depolymerization, by using solvents; ergo the make-up of our initial patent, but then our technology evolved through the implementation of many advances in the polymer science, including the Japanese study lead by Yoshida’s team.
Thank you for joining us for this session of Materials for an Extreme Future. Your participation, questions, and feedback have offered wonderful insight for all in attendance.