Sumitomo Chemical Develops a New Polyethylene Product, Sumicle®
Aiming to achieve horizontal recycling of plastic products
Mar. 31, 2022
Sumitomo Chemical has developed Sumicle®, a high-rigidity polyethylene (PE) for plastic packages and containers. Applying Sumicle® to the base layer of plastic packages and containers makes possible single material packages and containers made of PE, contributing to the realization of horizontal recycling*1—recycling of used plastics back to resin that can be used in similar applications. The Company has already started providing samples of Sumicle®, aiming for commercialization early in FY2022.
Plastic packages and containers for food and daily necessities are composed of several layers, each of which is made of a different type of resin with a different characteristic, depending on the application. For example, a polyolefin, such as PE, which is suitable for heat press-sealing, is used for the inner sealant layer, while a highly rigid nylon or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) having excellent self-supporting property is used for the outer base layer. Recycling these materials of plastic packages and containers to promote plastic resource recycling, however, poses a challenge. As it is difficult to sort these different types of materials and take each out separately, recycled materials inevitably have a lower quality, and most of them are used as cascade recycled*2 materials and ultimately are incinerated. Accordingly, it is imperative to provide more recyclable plastic packages and containers made of a single resin material, thereby enabling horizontal recycling of them and realizing a higher level of plastic resource recycling.
Sumicle® is a PE that boasts high rigidity achieved by using a special compounding technology. Single material plastic packages and containers can be made by applying Sumicle® to their outer base layer, for which nylon or PET is traditionally used, and combining it with a PE sealant layer. This new PE product thus enables horizontal material recycling of used plastic packages and containers and contributes to reducing fossil resource usage and the greenhouse gas emissions generated when waste plastics are incinerated. The Company will work to build a recycling system, including a sorting and collection system for plastic packaging and containers, and consider selling recycled plastics under its original brand of “MeguriTM.”*3
Sumitomo Chemical will continue to work on the development of more recyclable plastic materials in order to enable recycled plastics to be used in broader applications and promote more effective and beneficial recycling of limited resources.
*1 Recycling a used plastic product back to a material of a quality level applicable to the same application as the original product
*2 Recycling a used plastic product into other products and materials with lower quality than original products. Cascade recycling can be easily performed, compared to horizontal recycling
*3 Sumitomo Chemical’s original brand for plastic products obtained by using recycling technology. Under the brand, the Company plans to provide plastic products, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and acrylic resin, manufactured by using chemical recycling technology and material recycling technology.
Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.
Corporate Communications Dept.