Called ReNewKnit, the suede-like material will be produced at company facilities in the U.K. and Poland.
Automotive seating and e-systems producer Lear Corp., Southfield, Michigan, has announced a fully recyclable sueded material it says is expected to launch in seating and door panel applications with a global automaker in 2024. Polyester Drawn Textured Yarn
Lear says the new material, called ReNewKnit, is a first-to-market automotive textile that is fully recyclable at its end of life, manufactured with recycled materials at the company’s facilities in the U.K. and Poland using 100 percent renewable electricity.
The company says the material, developed by Guilford Performance Textiles by Lear, is composed of 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. ReNewKnit fibers are spun from polyester yarn and finished with a foam-free recycled fleece backing that further reduces water and energy consumption during the manufacturing process.
Lear says the material “challenges perceptions of reused and recycled textiles with a wide range of surfaces suitable for various interior applications and improved functionality”.
“At Lear, we are positioning our surface material offerings to what we believe is the future—a global circular economy where repurposed textiles can be infinitely recycled to become the ultimate raw material for sustainable manufacturing and design,” says Frank Orsini, executive vice president and president of Lear’s seating business. “ReNewKnit aligns with the vision automakers have for offering a premium look and feel without sacrificing the sense of luxury and performance expected from a suede-like material.”
The company's Aerospace & Transportation and Automotive Structures & Industry segments contributed to the record quarterly performance.
Paris-based Constellium SE, a global manufacturer of aluminum rolled products, extruded products and structural parts, has reported financial results for its third quarter of 2022, ended Sept. 30, that show a 2 percent decrease in shipments and a 27 percent increase in revenue relative to the same quarter in 2021.
The company shipped 387,000 metric tons in the quarter and reported revenue of 2 billion euros, or $2.01 billion. Its net income for the quarter was 131 million euros, or $131.66 million, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was 160 million euros, or $160.81 million, a 12 percent increase over Q3 2021 EBITDA.
For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Constellium’s shipments increased 2 percent to 1.2 million metric tons compared with the same period in 2021, while revenue increased 41 percent to 6.3 billion euros, or $6.33 billion, and adjusted EBITDA increased 21 percent to 525 million euros, or $527.6 million.
CEO Jean-Marc Germain says the company’s record quarterly adjusted EBITDA includes record third-quarter performances by its Aerospace & Transportation (A&T) and Automotive Structures & Industry (AS&I) segments. “Looking across our end markets, packaging demand continues to be resilient. Our shipments were down in the quarter due to operating challenges at our Muscle Shoals [Alabama] facility. Automotive shipments were up double digits in the quarter versus last year with new platform launches driving our growth, but we continue to be impacted by the semiconductor shortage and other supply chain challenges. In aerospace, demand is very strong with shipments up around 50 percent compared to last year for the second quarter in a row. While we are seeing signs of weakness across certain industrial markets, we like our end market positioning.”
Germain adds, “Macroeconomic and geopolitical risks remain elevated, and we expect significant inflationary pressures to continue, particularly for inputs like energy and in regions more directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine.” However, he says he is confident the company can manage through these challenging times.
“We expect recent demand trends in our markets to continue through the remainder of 2022,” Germain continues. “Based on our current outlook, in 2022 we expect adjusted EBITDA at the low end of our range of 670 million euros to 690 million euros ($673.34 million and $693.5 million) and free cash flow in excess of 170 million euros ($170.86 million).”
Constellium says its shipments in the third quarter were lower in light of lower shipments in the Packaging & Automotive Rolled Products segment, which were partially offset by higher shipments in the A&T and AS&I segments. The company attributes the year-over-year quarterly revenue increase to improved price and mix and higher metal prices. Constellium says stronger results in A&T, AS&I and Holdings & Corporate segments contributed to its higher quarterly EBITDA relative to Q3 2021, though their contributions were partially offset by weaker results in Packaging & Automotive Rolled Products (P&ARP).
In its P&ARP segment, adjusted EBITDA decreased 17 percent compared with the third quarter of 2021 as a result of lower shipments and higher operating costs primarily from inflation and operating challenges at Constellium’s Muscle Shoals facility, which resulted in higher maintenance and supplies costs. Shipments of 267,000 metric tons decreased 5 percent compared with the third quarter of the prior year in light of lower shipments of packaging and specialty rolled products, partially offset by higher shipments of automotive rolled products. Revenue, however, increased 15 percent compared with the prior year’s third quarter primarily because of improved price and mix and higher metal prices, partially offset by lower shipments, the company says.
In Constellium’s A&T segment, adjusted EBITDA increased 136 percent compared with the third quarter of 2021 primarily because of higher shipments, improved price and mix and favorable foreign exchange translation, partially offset by higher operating costs in light of inflation and the production ramp-up in aerospace. Shipments of 55,000 metric tons increased 6 percent compared with the third quarter of 2021 on higher shipments of aerospace rolled products, partially offset by lower shipments of Transportation, Industry and Defense rolled products.
In its AS&I segment, adjusted EBITDA increased 7 percent in the third quarter compared with the third quarter of 2021 primarily because of higher shipments and improved price and mix, partially offset by higher operating costs mainly arising from inflation, Constellium says. Shipments of 65,000 metric tons increased 4 percent compared with the third quarter of 2021 because of higher shipments of automotive extruded products.
Quantum technology enables packaging producers to cut packaging material and weight in half.
Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Amcor Rigid Packaging, which is a subsidiary of Amcor, has developed Quantum technology for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles as a two-step, lightweighting technology. The company says Quantum helps to eliminate about 50 percent of packaging material and weight.
According to Amcor Rigid Packaging, Quantum helps to reduce manufacturing costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by removing more than 50 percent of the material and weight from the finished bottle when compared with a traditional finish. The company says Quantum technology also allows for up to 100 percent recycled material and a sustainable, fully recyclable package.
“Our customers and consumers alike are looking for ways to support the circular economy and eliminate waste, and our engineers have developed a new technology that meets their needs and advances more sustainable packaging,” says Terry Patcheak, vice president of research and development in Sustainability and Project Management at Amcor Rigid Packaging. “We’re helping our customers support source reduction, reduce material use and reduce weight, which means a lighter and more sustainable package.”
Amcor Rigid Packaging says Quantum can be used for packaging in multiple segments, including health care, home and personal care, food and dairy.
The 824 G material handler series updates Sennebogen’s 821 E material handler series for recycling and scrap yards.
Sennebogen, headquartered in Germany with its North American division based in Stanley, North Carolina, has launched the 824 G material handler series, which updates the company’s 821 E material handler series. The company showcased the 824 G material handler series at Bauma 2022, which takes place Oct. 24-30 in Munich.
Sennebogen says its 824 G series serves the smaller material handler segment. The material handlers feature a wide range of different equipment options, which the company says makes them a good fit for recycling and scrap yards. The machines work well for loading tasks and can cope with demanding continuous use in tough work environments that have high dust levels, heat or extreme weather.
According to Sennebogen, the new 824 G material handlers feature a reach of 12 meters (or about 39 feet) and can be equipped with either a crawler or mobile undercarriage. Equipment lengths range from 10 meters (or about 33 feet) to 12 meters (or about 39 feet).
The company says load capacities of the Sennebogen 824 G have been increased by more than 10 percent compared with the predecessor model, enabling the machines to handle more material per work cycle.
The material handlers also include the environmentally friendly Stage V diesel engine with 118 kilowatts of power. According to Sennebogen, the engine runs at a speed of 1,725 rpm as standard, and both noise emissions and energy consumption of the machine are reduced compared with previous models. Additionally, special eco-settings and large-scale lines and hydraulic valves relieve the pressure on the material handlers’ pump systems, ensuring efficient operations.
The material handlers also come with Sennebogen’s memory-based operator profiles, where hydraulics can be adjusted precisely to a respective operator to save time when changing machine operators. The 824 G also features Sennebogen’s Maxcab with large window elements to provide a clear view for operators, as well as windscreen made of bulletproof glass to protect the operators. The elevating cab allows an eye height of up to 3 meters (or about 10 feet), providing operators with a direct view to other equipment such as shredders or scrap presses.
The 824 G series has what Sennebogen calls an “extensive camera system and intelligent control and diagnostic systems” to support the machines. The company’s SENtrack telematic system comes as standard on these machines, providing machine data such as maintenance requirements, utilization, fuel consumption and hydraulic pressures.
In addition, the 824 G series material handlers come with simplified access to service points, such as the central lubrication system and tanks, making maintenance easier. Sennebogen says some features on these material handlers also ensure that the service intervals are longer on the 824 G material handlers than on predecessor models like the 821 E material handlers.
Plastics and recycling organizations say recycling is essential to plastics’ circularity while acknowledging that the recycling rate must improve.
The Greenpeace USA report, “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again,” released Monday, Oct. 24, concludes that most plastic generated in the U.S. cannot be recycled, to which the plastics and recycling industries respond that recycling is essential to plastics’ circularity while acknowledging that the recycling rate must improve.
According to the Greenpeace report, no type of plastic packaging in the U.S. meets the definition of recyclable used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy (EMF NPE) Initiative, which calls for a 30 percent threshold “across multiple regions, collectively representing at least 400 million inhabitants.”
According to Greenpeace, two of the most common plastics in the U.S. that often are considered recyclable—polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), typically in the form of bottles and jugs—fall well below the EMF NPE threshold, only achieving reprocessing rates of 20.9 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively. For every other type of plastic, the reprocessing rate is less than 5 percent.
However, Greenpeace’s PET and HDPE bottle recycling rates differ significantly from those reported in the 2020 U.S. Post-consumer Plastic Recycling Data Report, which calculates the PET bottle recycling rate at 27.1 percent and the HDPE bottle recycling rate at 28.8 percent. However, these figures remain below the 30 percent EMF NPE threshold.
According to Greenpeace, while PET and HDPE previously were thought of as recyclable, its report finds that being accepted by a recycling processing plant does not necessarily result in them being recycled— effectively negating the recyclability claim.
The nonprofit also claims that U.S. households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, and only 2.4 million tons were recycled.
According to the report, which updates a 2020 report, mechanical and chemical recycling of end-of-life plastics fail because they are extremely difficult to collect, virtually impossible to sort for recycling, environmentally harmful to reprocess, often made of and contaminated by toxic materials and not economical to recycle.
Greenpeace says its original survey of acceptance of plastic items at U.S. residential material recovery facilities, or MRFs, has been continually updated since its creation in October 2019 and was reverified in August 2022. The survey was performed and verified by technically qualified volunteers of The Last Beach Cleanup: two registered professional chemical engineers and a recycling industry expert. The acceptance information was found in the public domain and is publicly shared to promote transparency and establish a traceable account of facts related to “recyclable” claims and labels for plastic products.
Lisa Ramsden, Greenpeace USA senior plastics campaigner, says, “We are at a decision point on plastic pollution. It is time for corporations to turn off the plastic tap. Instead of continuing to greenwash and mislead the American public, industry should stand on the right side of history this November and support an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty that will finally end the age of plastic by significantly decreasing production and increasing refill and reuse.”
In addition to adopting the Global Plastics Treaty, the Greenpeace report urges companies to take several steps to mitigate the systemic problems associated with plastic recycling, including phasing out single-use plastics and committing to standardized reusable packaging.
Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association (Plastics), Washington, responded to the Greenpeace report by saying the plastics industry agrees plastic recycling must increase. “The difference between our industry and Greenpeace is that we understand the necessary action needed to preserve a material that saves lives and improves our overall safety and quality of life through responsible use and recycling instead of creating false narratives.”
He also says, “The activists at Greenpeace cannot call themselves environmentalists while simultaneously discouraging recycling as part of the solution to our world’s waste problems. There is no question that we as a society can and must recycle more. However, their assertions that recycling can’t keep plastic materials within the circular economy is disingenuous and irresponsible. Recycling is real, and the claims that it can’t ever work, made in this document, will likely result in unnecessary waste and public reaction that could actually cause greater environmental harm.
“The claim that ‘mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic waste has largely failed’ is a desperate attempt to counter the billions of dollars in investments the plastics and recycling industries have made into new technologies and solutions to make products more recyclable,” Seaholm continues.
He adds that the Greenpeace document fails to mention the value that plastic packaging provides, such as reducing food waste and food waste emissions. “Especially during a time of heightened food uncertainty, global food shortages and greater demand, plastic must be embraced for its ability to build a reliable, sustainable food supply chain across the world economy,” Seaholm writes.
He adds, “Another example is the essential role plastics play in the manufacture, transport and administration of health care, vaccines and immunizations, successfully contributing to global scientific advancement.”
Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, Washington, in response to the Greenpeace report, says, "We agree that plastic recycling isn’t a panacea for plastics waste. However, the reality is that the world won’t just stop making plastic tomorrow, so what do we do today? We must partner to do the hard but impactful work of building a better system; one that focuses on reducing, reusing and then recycling all we can. That’s why The Recycling Partnership remains committed to working with all stakeholders, including companies that produce plastics, to make recycling better. Together we can deliver a transparent and accountable system that delivers recycling’s enormous economic and environmental benefits.”
In an essay posted in July of this year to The Recycling Partnership’s website, Harrison writes, “Frustrated that recycling isn’t fixing the world’s waste problem? Here’s the truth: as it’s built now, it never will. If we think we can just keep making and buying whatever we want without any planning for what happens when we’re done with that thing, recycling will never keep pace and we’ll always be let down.”
The Recycling Partnership suggests five steps to make a meaningful difference in recycling in the U.S.:
Joshua Baca, vice president of Plastics for the American Chemistry Council, Washington, also released a statement commenting on the Greenpeace report: “America’s plastic makers are on the cusp of a circularity revolution, ushered in by innovation and billions in investment in recycling technologies. We are accelerating the shift to greater plastics circularity by scaling up sortation, advanced recycling and new partnerships that enable used plastic to be remade again and again. Just last week saw a $100 million investment to help sort more plastic so it gets recycled, and another company commit to triple the amount of circular and renewable solutions to 3 million metric tons annually.
“Greenpeace and its allies are advocating for the elimination of plastic, a material that makes modern life possible, lowers carbon emissions compared to alternatives, keeps our food fresher and safer, enables renewable wind and solar energy and reduces energy use in our homes and vehicles. Greenpeace’s extreme views are misleading, out of touch and misguided.”
Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, says, "The report states that the U.S. has a 5 percent recycling rate, but that can be misleading. It all depends on what the denominator is. When determining recycling rates, we study the amount of consumer-facing packaging produced. Greenpeace is using all plastics created as a denominator. It is important to note that these statistics include plastic items such as durable goods, playground equipment, even toilet seats, that are meant to last many years, as well as nondurable goods not intended for recycling, such as garbage bags.
"Consumer packaging is made mostly of PET, HDPE and PP [polyethylene], used in a packaging context, combined they have a 21 percent recycling rate. Reclaimers currently have the capacity to double that number. They need more supply. Misleading reports like this, which can discourage consumers from recycling, are not only destructive to our communities, but also to the environment and the economy," he adds.
The APR recently pushed back on misleading plastics recycling data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a report titled “Recommit, Reimagine, Rework Recycling."
The APR says its report presents an important clarification on data provided by the EPA for the discussion on U.S. recycling rates, explaining that 80 percent of rigid plastic packaging is made from either PET, HDPE or PP. According to the APR report, 21 percent of these types of plastic are recycled based on EPA data. However, according to the EPA’s 2018 figures, the latest available, the overall plastic recycling rate was only 9 percent. The APR notes that, as with the Greenpeace report, the EPA’s statistics “include containers, packaging and durable goods meant to last many years as well as nondurable goods not intended for recycling like garbage bags.”
Spun Polyester Yarn *This article was updated Oct. 26 to add the comments from the APR.