Novi, Mich. — Life cycle analysis (LCA) data soon will be available for compounds made by Polykemi Group at its plant in Gastonia, N.C.
That data already is available for compounds made by Sweden-based Polykemi in both Sweden and China, sustainability specialist Henrik Palokangas said Sept. 21 at the Injection Molding & Design Expo in Novi.
"Our company was founded in 1968 as a recycler, but in the 1970s, people weren't talking about recycling," he added. "It's completely different today."
Polykemi makes compounds based on several engineering resins as well as polypropylene and blends based on polycarbonate, nylon, PBT and other materials for the automotive, furniture and household industries. Palokangas said that polymer choice can have a high impact on LCA data, since 60-80 percent of carbon dioxide can come from raw materials.
"More processes can lead to a higher carbon footprint, as well as shipping," he added. Additives such as fillers and reinforcements also can impact the data.
Palokangas said that bio-based materials "can have a higher footprint than recycled materials but lower than virgin materials."
Polykemi's Scanamid-brand nylon 6 compounds can offer performance comparable to aluminum and metallic alloys, Palokangas said. "It's possible to decarbonize and reduce cost," he said.
In 2021, Polykemi developed an LCA-focused simulation tool to help customers understand the impact of their material choices on the climate. The tool is based on a 2020 study conducted by the company that analyzed the climate impact of all its products.
Polykemi opened the Gastonia plant, its first in the U.S., earlier this year. Officials said at the time that the plant represented the firm's largest-ever investment.
Polykemi had been represented in the U.S. since 2013 through export sales. The firm invested around $19 million in the new facility, which will employ around 20 in its first year. The plant launched operations with about 14 million pounds of annual production capacity on two twin-extrusion lines.
In March, Polykemi opened a sales unit in Mexico, with officials describing the move as "a natural step in the globalization of the company." Polykemi México is based in Mexico City and will supply customers in North and South America with compounds based on virgin and recycled resins made in Gastonia. Polykemi previously supplied customers in Mexico with products from Sweden.