Child playing in colorful plastic ball pitChild playing in colorful plastic ball pit

Closing the loop on the circular economy for plastics with Kraton

What is a circular economy?

You have undoubtedly heard the term circular economy within the plastics industry. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "[a] circular economy, as defined in the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, refers to an economy that uses a systems-focused approach and involves industrial processes and economic activities that are restorative or regenerative by design, enables resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and aim for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems (including business models)."

Although the ideas behind this definition seem reasonable and desirable, there are concerns about the feasibility and capability to achieve these goals. Engagement levels around ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) topics are steadily increasing due to responsible companies addressing these challenges head-on.

Kraton, a leading global producer for the Coatings, Adhesives, and Sealants, and Elastomers (CASE) markets, is one of the companies leading the charge to bring sustainability in plastic additives to the forefront.

Finding sustainable solutions for the plastic life cycle

The controversy surrounding plastics has been part of the environmental discourse for decades. While often at the forefront of circular economy initiatives, it’s important to remember that plastics are some of the most versatile and frequently-used materials used in our modern world. They are essential to our infrastructure and ubiquitous in our daily lives, from transportation to housing, so we need practical solutions to manage plastic materials at the end of life.

Kraton and Univar Solutions are committed to being part of the solution. Together, we intend to close the circle on this plastic economy with a sustainable approach. For customers, it means they also become part of the solution with eco-friendly ingredients and product offerings, ensuring economic viability – a crucial tenet of any sustainability path forward.

Recycled plastic cups on displayRecycled plastic cups on display
Lab testing for new breakthroughs in plastic recyclingLab testing for new breakthroughs in plastic recycling

Kraton’s innovations to enhance circular design

One of the most prominent issues facing plastic recycling and upcycling are the limitations of incorporating more recycled plastic content into products. With plastics, myriad resin types and multi-material design approaches present challenges to substantially increase the recycled content through mechanical recycling processes.

CirKular+TM is one of Kraton’s recent solutions introduced it is an innovative line of high-performance compatibilizers that is designed to help the plastic industry create high-quality products with maximized use of post-consumer resin (PCR) and post-industrial resin (PIR). Additionally, CirKular+ enables recyclable design and repeated reuse of recycled plastic at the end of the plastic life cycle.

For the medical industry, patient safety is the highest priority. To enhance sustainable product design while ensuring patient safety for medical products, Kraton also offers its G series of styrene block copolymers (SBCs), a class of thermoplastic elastomers and solutions including:

  • IV bags: By combining Kraton's G1645 with polypropylene, phthalate-free IV bags are created, providing better seal strength and puncture resistance, excellent optical characteristics, and delivering recyclable design as a viable substitute to PVC bags, which cannot be easily recycled.
  • Medical tubing: Using a specific blend ratio of Kraton’s G1645 with polypropylene, medical tubings can be made with silicone-free formulations with better kink performance, reduced system costs, and better flow performance. Additionally, formulators can also realize improved recyclability over incumbent products.

These innovative developments set the stage to create the next generation of sustainable products with enhanced recyclability and more sustainable ingredients, including recycled plastics with a lower carbon footprint across different industries.

How Univar Solutions and Kraton collaborate to enhance the circular economy

Kraton and Univar Solutions are working together to develop specialty innovations and improvements for the sustainability journey, helping customers develop high-performance products with more sustainable/circular designs.

In addition to the market-needs sustainable solutions Kraton develops, Univar Solutions' global market and technical experts support customers in finding new and inventive ways to utilize these innovative products and benchmark successes.

Medical tubing for a hospital patientMedical tubing for a hospital patient