As pressure increases for automakers and other OEMs to reduce their carbon footprint, materials suppliers are looking for recycled feedstock sources and weighing the benefits of recycled and bio-based materials.
ABS resins supplier Elix Polymers SL isn't finding it easy to find a good source of materials, both good quality and enough volumes, Fabian Herter, marketing manager, told Plastics News at Fakuma 2023 in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
With more regulations for automotive OEMs to reduce the CO2 footprint of their products, investments in chemical recycling in the U.S. and Europe are increasing, Herter said. But it's a challenge for the industry to get regulators and the public to accept it as a technology.
"With new technologies, capacity and costs can go down with more volumes available," he said.
Customers' uptake of mechanically recycled materials has also been "slower than expected," Herter said.
"For automotive, for example, [it's] nearly impossible that they accept the higher prices. But for other applications, it's easier to go ahead. … We have that demand," he said.
"But we have to be ready and approve suppliers to assure volumes … by the mechanical recyclers … we're close with our suppliers," he added.
Elix also has "detailed discussions" with its customers to educate them on the decreased carbon emissions from mechanically recycled materials.
ABS generally hasn't been an easy market this year, Herter said.
"The forecast is not so positive. Everybody is really in a negative mood. Demand is not ramping up. In the U.S., it was already low demand. And then the high imports from Asia coming, and then the ongoing [UAW] strike," he said.
Earlier this year, Ford, GM, Stellantis, BMW, Renault Nissan Mitsubishi, Daimler and Tesla approved several Elix products.
The company developed a range of specialty grades of ABS and polycarbonate/ABS to be used in interior parts like door handles, armrests, seating parts, sunroofs, cup holders and air vents. The materials reduce squeaking and rattling sounds generated by plastic parts making contact with other plastic parts, leather, PVC-foil or other products.