How to Choose the Best Ocean Plastic Polymer for Your Sustainability Project
There are four main polymers that comprise the ocean plastics market right now; HDPE, PP, PET and Nylon.
Depending on your industry and product performance requirements, you may already use one of these polymers in your products or none of these at all. Part of the difficulty with ocean plastics is that one needs to be creative with how best to utilize one of these four available polymers.
Now, if you’re already using one of these polymers, your project will likely be easier, but that’s not always the case. Ocean plastics overall is not a swap in and swap out approach. In some cases, with certain products, you can literally switch from a virgin resin to a recycled ocean plastic resin, but for more complex engineered parts, that is not the case.
We see a lot of demand for brands that are using engineering polymers like ABS, TPU and PC that want to now use ocean plastics. Unfortunately, our current offerings don't include those exact materials. These are engineering polymers, still widely used around the world, but not in single-use plastics that dominate the waste stream.
If your tooling or equipment were designed for ABS, chances are you’re going to need some serious engineering support to get an HDPE to adhere to the same characteristics. It’s been done by some of our larger clients, but it’s not something to take on without an eyes wide open approach.
This is why choosing the right polymer, or multiple polymers from our marketplace can be the solution to reach your manufacturing and performance goals.
"At Oceanworks, our goal is to help catalyze the adoption of recycled ocean plastics into products and services around the world." -Rob Ianelli, CEO, Oceanworks
Every product listing has a TDS which details the technical properties of each resin. What you and your engineering team should take notice of, is that the MFI for ocean plastics varies dramatically between resins, even of the same polymer type. Flexural modulus also alters significantly, so it’s safe to say that not all plastics are created equal.
As our marketplace continually sources material globally, a PET from Asia may have different performance characteristics than from South America. Every processor has their technique on getting the most high-quality product out of their extruder. Chemically both resins are PET, but it’s important to understand the variations in characteristics ahead of time.
Managing expectations for you and your team is crucial. More importantly, managing how your manufacturer understands the process is even more valuable as they will be doing the job of making your product.
- Understand what polymers you’re using and why.
- Try to utilize an existing ocean plastic polymer to get the job done.
- Involve your manufacturer early, but not right off the bat. You don’t want to have them discourage you from the project because you sent them a polymer that can’t work or will require too much of their engineering team.
- Not all plastic or ocean plastics for that matter are created equal.
- If you’re not using an available ocean plastic polymer, think about what your appetite is for innovation and proceed with eyes wide open.