A dispute is brewing about the recyclability of packaging made from renewable resources. The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) issued a statement that it “refutes” the premise that polylactic acid (PLA) containers can be successfully mixed in to the existing stream of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers.
NAPCOR concerns include cost of separation, increased contamination and yield loss, and impact on recycled PET (RPET) quality and processing.
“We don’t doubt that PLA can be recycled,” said Tom Busard, NAPCOR chairman, “but there are unquestionably some big issues yet to overcome. The current reality is that these issues transfer significant system costs and logistics burdens to the PET recyclers, impacting the viability and continued sustainability of their businesses.”
Mike Schedler, NAPCOR’s Technical Director added, “The entire premise that you can simply add PLA containers into the PET recycling stream, successfully sort them out, and eventually find markets for the material is like advocating that mixed ceramic materials can be thrown right in with the recyclable glass stream to be sorted out, and that eventually there will be enough of this mixed material that someone will want to buy it. It’s really no different from this and just isn’t a viable solution from anyone’s point of view.”
Suppliers of high tech systems have issued press releases saying they have solved the sorting problem. Near-infrared (NIR) sorting systems, for example, may be an effective means of sorting out 93 percent of the PLA from the PET recycling stream. NIR systems, however, may cost $200,000 or more.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
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