Now that my jet lag has (mostly) receded, and before we hear holiday music on the radio, let's take a look back at the materials side of K 2022.
The show took place last month in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was the first truly global plastics trade show in three years, since the last edition of K, since NPE and Chinaplas were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chinaplas was held in April 2021, but attendance from outside of China was well below normal.)
It was great to feel the energy of a major trade show once again. Some of that energy likely came from my throbbing feet on the days I wore dress shoes, but still. There's no way to replace face-to-face interaction, even if we're all doing it a bit less than we did pre-COVID.
I was a bit surprised to see that attendance officially was down 21 percent to about 176,000. It didn't feel that way in the materials halls where I spent most of my time. In those halls, it felt like a standard K show, where if you stood in one place too long, you were at risk of meeting a new friend via collision.
What were the materials companies talking about? Sustainability, sustainability and more sustainability. They all were trying to find ways to meet their own circularity goals and to help customers meet theirs. Many companies were emphasizing new grades with recycled content, with a few promoting bioplastics as well.
It's always a bit of a challenge coming back to the U.S. plastics world after being in Europe. Sustainability is taken far more seriously — and enthusiastically — by firms in Europe than it is on this side of the Atlantic. That might be changing, however, as more brand owners push for recycled content to satisfy their own customers and their concerns about the environment.
Some sustainable materials highlights from K 2022 included:
• Sabic showcasing light fixtures made from Lexan-brand polycarbonate and hygiene products made from recycled content, as well as the Microsoft mouse made with 20 percent ocean plastic. The firm's advanced recycling plant in Geleen, Netherlands, will be mechanically complete in early 2023, with commercial amounts available by mid-year. Sabic also is working on making its plant in Cartagena, Spain, fully renewable.
• DuPont Co.'s Mobility & Materials unit — which became part of Celanese Corp. on Nov. 1 — spotlighted a new Zytel HTN nylon resin that offers "the best of both worlds" in a plastic/metal battery cooling application, according to Scott Collick, global research and development vice president. The combination offers the flexibility of plastics with the thermal conductivity of metal.
• Covestro emphasized its CQ (circular intelligence) line of products that have at least 25 percent biomass, recycled content or green hydrogen. Officials said that the new materials aim to create greater transparency and to make it easier for customers to distinguish them from conventional, fossil-based products.
"We want to make sure that we offer solutions to our customers that they can easily drop into their manufacturing processes," Chief Commercial Officer Sucheta Govil said.
• Borealis announced plans to build an advanced mechanical recycling plant in Austria. The plant will be in Schwechat and will use the firm's Borcycle M technology, which transforms polyolefin-based post-consumer waste into resins suitable for demanding applications.