Sustainable Polymers

Reducing the environmental impact with sustainable polymers

Maurice Kelly, Polymer Products Manager discusses sustainable polymers.

The focus on minimising the damage to the environment is not so much a trend but rather something that will continue to grow. My colleague and Managing Director of NCC, Alan Looney wrote previously on this subject with an article entitled, Is it time to start exploring green chemical alternatives?, if you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do. In that article Alan discussed how a green chemical future may be coming sooner rather than later. He suggested that organisations should plan towards finding green alternatives if they have not already done so. The fact is it could be a significant challenge for some industries to become greener, fortunately when it comes to polymers this is thankfully becoming easier with sustainable alternatives.

What really does sustainable mean?

It could be argued that the term sustainable has become a bit of a buzz word that has been applied to things that are not always totally sustainable. This begs the question what is sustainable? The United Nations in 2015 set up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), this is a collection of 17 interlinked global goals to be achieved by 2030. The goals are pretty broad and as such are independent of each other: (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reducing Inequality, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life On Land, (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (17) Partnerships for the Goals.

Clearly not all of these goals can be applied to products or industries, however they do provide a guideline for organisations to follow. Based on these principles our polymer partner Arkema has developed polymers that are truly sustainable and addresses 10 of the 17 that are applicable to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS).

Sustainable polymers

Having worked in the polymer industry for over 30 years, the development of the Rilsan® Product Range is a significant achievement on sustainability. Typically, polymers are derived from fossil fuels, Arkema’s approach with the Rilsan® Range has utilised the castor bean as the feedstock for polymer production. A sustainable, renewable crop that does not compete with food and does not cause deforestation. In addition, the crop is grown primarily in India with poor soil providing farmers with a highly profitable crop of which 45% of the beans are turned into oil for polymer production and 55% is sold as fertiliser. Meaning essentially no waste.

Castor initiative Pragati

To ensure continuity of supply as well as true sustainability Arkema, BASF, Jayant Agro-Organics, and Solidaridad, (an international civil society organisation) founded sustainable castor initiative, Pragati (meaning progress in Hindi). Pragati’s goals are to overall enhance castor productivity in India, this is achieved by training farmers to increase yields, building capacity and reducing the impact to the environment. Educational materials are provided as to enhance the skills and knowledge of farmers which in turn improves their income and as a result gives a higher standard of living. The list of achievements to date by Pragati are pretty impressive:

  • Over 3,000 farmers have been educated (involving more than 8,000 hours of classroom training)
  • More than 5,200 hectares of castor farming are now in accordance with the principles of the initiative
  • 3 Independent certification bodies have been empanelled as certification agencies
  • 5 Demonstration plots have been set up to showcase the benefits of implementing good agricultural practices
  • 45 Villages have participated in soil and water testing regimens
  • A yield increase of approximately 50% has been realised compared to a baseline study conducted in 2016

If you would like to know more about sustainable polymers or the Arkema range, I’d be delighted to discuss your requirements. Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in contact.  

NCC your technical partner in medical device and healthcare development

NCC offers the full range of Arkema medical and non-medical polymers including: Arkema Pebax, Arkema Rilsan Arkema Rilsamid, among others. Providing a comprehensive range of technical polymer, and additive materials for supply to the medical device and healthcare sectors. Our materials are manufactured to FDA and USP Class VI standard and approvals. Assisting customers to design, develop, validate as well as manufacture.

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