Recycling Chemical Containers

- November 01, 2018 -

Brazil’s Cimplast Embalagens found a way to create a process for recycling agricultural chemical containers that enables its used containers to be turned into construction and automotive products.

Cimplast, which makes plastic packaging, uses Dow Fusabond® resin to enable its used agricultural chemical containers to be recycled into rigid, yet flexible, corrugated pipes for construction. Its subsidiary, CimflexIndústria e Comércio de Plásticos, manufactures the pipes. As a result, agricultural chemical container packaging becomes more sustainable without compromising on safety and durability.

The Challenge

Because they may be dangerous if not handled properly, agricultural chemicals must be packaged in extremely safe containers, such as drums or rigid bottles manufactured with numerous layers. Cimplast Embalagens uses multilayer extrusion blow-molded bottles to ensure chemical resistance for the inner layers, ensure sufficient barrier properties, and ensure printability for the outer layers. Dow Bynel® adhesive resin is used as the adhesive layer to bond these otherwise incompatible functional polymer layers.

Even though the multilayer bottles meet all the necessary performance and safety standards, they pose an important end-of-life challenge after use. As the functional layers are not compatible with each other when recycled, the resultant compound is a mixture of incompatible polymers that has poor mechanical and surface properties.

The Solution

Working with Dow, Cimplast used a grade of Dow Fusabond® functional polymers as a compatibilizer to bond dissimilar polymers in the structure. Used worldwide as a coupling agent and polymer modifier in applications where performance and compatibility are required, Fusabond® has the capacity to disperse chemically different polymers and minerals, improving impact resistance, surface finishing, and processability.

To take full advantage of the recycling opportunities made possible by Fusabond®, Cimplast entered a technical cooperation agreement with inPEV (the National Institute for the Processing of Empty Packaging) to form CimflexIndústria e Comércio de Plásticos.

Cimflex transforms used Cimplast packaging into rigid and flexible corrugated pipe used in construction. Unused materials are returned to Cimplast, which sends them to a company that manufactures monolayer bottles used to package automotive oils. This closes the packaging life cycle, as the materials return to the manufacturing cycle through recycling.

In 2005 Cimflex recycled 100 tons of plastic a month. By 2010 the monthly volume was 300 tons.

Key Advantages

Dow Fusabond® resins are modified polymers that help bond dissimilar polymers used in toughened, filled and blended compounds.

While most Fusabond® applications are in industrial goods, certain grades, like the one used by Cimplast, help compatibilize polyethylene-based recycle streams, creating added performance potential and value for post-consumer package recycling programs.

A Sustainability Award-Winning Collaboration

Brazil is the world leader in safe disposal of used agricultural chemical containers and packaging with a 95% collection rate. Now it is also leading the way in agricultural chemical container recycling. Cimplast’s use of Dow Fusabond® is a proven example of Dow partnering to make the entire manufacturing chain a virtuous cycle.

In 2010, Dow received Brazil’s Premio ECO Award in the Sustainability in Products for its role in this virtuous cycle.

“It is a great honor to be recognized not only for the environmental impact of this recycling program, but for the science behind it,” said DuPont Latin America President Eduardo W. Wanick. “Multilayer containers pose a great recycling challenge due to the variety of plastic materials used in the construction.”

“Innovative programs such as these evolve when the entire value chain is engaged. Dow is uniquely focused across the value chain allowing us to introduce customized solutions based on our holistic view of global food production,” continued Wanick. “Reducing the negative effects on the environment requires collaborative innovation throughout the value chain focused on a common goal of a sustainable future.”