Enhancing Sustainability in Chemical Recycling of ABS Materials

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
January 16th, 2024
12:06 PM

ELIX Polymers explores the potential of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) materials to enhance sustainability in healthcare, addressing challenges posed by cross-contamination in traditional mechanically recycled ABS amid rising demand for sustainability in medical applications.

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Business Development Manager at ELIX Polymers, Luca Chiochia, led a discussion last August on how Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) materials can pave the way for a more sustainable industry, particularly in the healthcare sector.

The surge in demand for sustainable ABS materials, especially in drug delivery device applications, has become evident in the healthcare industry. However, traditional mechanically recycled ABS materials face challenges meeting stringent medical regulatory compliance requirements due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Fortunately, emerging chemically recycled and bio-based ABS materials now offer a promising solution, sharing identical chemical composition and properties with virgin medical ABS. This ensures they not only fulfill the same medical applications but also adhere to rigorous medical regulations.


The Advantages of Chemically Recycled ABS Formulation

Unlike their mechanically recycled counterparts, chemically recycled ABS formulations allow for the use of a full spectrum of colors available in virgin medical ABS. This not only ensures regulatory compliance but also provides vibrant and intense colors, an achievement unattainable with mechanical recycled content.

To understand how chemical recycled medical ABS achieves full compliance with medical applications and its sustainability advantages over fossil-origin medical ABS, it is essential to delve into the intricacies of chemical recycling technologies. In this context, the article highlights the significance of conversion chemical recycling, a process involving pyrolysis—an oxygen-free thermal decomposition process—to obtain an oil-like feedstock.

The crucial point lies in the entry of this pyrolysis oil into the ABS polymer supply chain at its inception, even before the production of ABS starting raw materials. This ensures compatibility with existing production processes without necessitating substantial investments. The ISCC+ certification, utilizing a mass balance approach, guarantees sustainable non-fossil content throughout the supply chain, making it economically feasible.


ELIX Polymers' Pioneering Role in Sustainable ABS Manufacturing

The substitution of Nafta oil with pyrolysis oil in the steam cracking process maintains the same production processes used for fossil inputs. Each step in the supply chain, including the production of Styrene and subsequent ABS manufacturing, must be ISCC+ certified with a mass balance approach when chemical recycled content is present.

ELIX Polymers stands out as the pioneer ABS manufacturer to obtain ISCC+ Certification with a mass balance approach, offering ABS grades with chemical recycled content to the market. Medical-grade formulations, such as ELIX M203FC and M205FC, have been utilized in drug delivery devices and medical device housings for years and are now available with up to 70% ISCC+ certified raw materials content, comprising both chemical recycled and bio-based content.

Importantly, the chemical recycled versions maintain the same stringent Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) procedures as their fossil-based counterparts, ensuring no compromise in chemical composition, process, or properties. ELIX's medical ABS formulations, registered with the FDA in the Drug Master Files, provide detailed information on the composition and biocompatible color formulations, all subject to rigorous testing at recognized laboratories.

To conclude, the integration of chemically recycled ABS materials into the healthcare sector not only addresses the challenges of cross-contamination but also contributes significantly to creating a more sustainable industry. ELIX Polymers' innovative approach and certification adherence showcase a viable path toward achieving sustainability goals without compromising product quality or regulatory compliance.


Who Are the World's Biggest Producers of ABS?

1. LG Chem: LG Chem under LG Group, founded in 19447, is a major South Korean chemical company with global significance. Involved in diverse business sectors, LG Chem operates in petrochemicals, energy solutions, advanced materials, and life sciences. It is a leading producer of petrochemical products, including Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. Notably, LG Chem is a major player in the energy storage and battery industry, manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Additionally, the company is active in producing advanced materials and engages in life sciences, including pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.

2. DuPont: DuPont, founded in 1802 as a gunpowder mill, has evolved into a global conglomerate renowned for groundbreaking innovations in chemicals, materials science, and agriculture. The company’s diverse portfolio includes transformative inventions such as nylon, Teflon, Lycra, and Kevlar. With a commitment to research and innovation, DuPont has excelled in chemicals and materials, agriculture, and electronics. Notably, it contributes to the production of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a versatile thermoplastic widely used in various industries. DuPont’s adaptability is reflected in its history of restructuring and spin-offs. From its crucial role in national defense to its continuous focus on cutting-edge solutions, DuPont remains a pioneering force with a legacy of impactful contributions.