Avient Corp. helps turn old car windshields into new plastic products

Oct. 27, 2021
Denmark-based Shark Solutions produces sustainable polyvinyl butyral (PVB) products from car windshields and laminated building glass.

By Bruce Geiselman

Avient Corp., an Ohio-based company that offers an extensive portfolio of polymer, colorant, and additive products has launched sales of new thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) pellets that contain 25 percent post-consumer recycled content derived from automobile windshields and laminated architectural glass.

Avient is selling the new TPE formulations as part of its reSound R recycled-content thermoplastic elastomers portfolio.

The Avon Lake, Ohio, company developed the new TPE materials in collaboration with Shark Solutions, a company based in Denmark with operations in North America. Shark Solutions produces sustainable polyvinyl butyral (PVB) products from car windshields and laminated building glass. PVB, found in the inner layer of windshield glass, is reclaimed and reprocessed, after which it can be used as an alternative raw material for polymers including TPE.

“It has taken many years to develop this technology,” Rob Crivello, vice president of Shark Solutions, said. “We separate the PVB interlayer from the glass through a proprietary process and sell both fractions as recycled or upcycled raw materials for various commercial and industrial uses, such as glass being used as recycled raw material for commercial insulation. Mostly we work with leading companies that are focused on a creating a better environment and high-quality products. We don’t share many details on our processes.”

Avient’s “unique formulation expertise” allows the reprocessed, high-quality, non-toxic PVB to be upcycled into more sustainable TPEs with excellent properties, according to the company.

“This technology brings together advanced material science and innovation to support customers’ goals and the circular economy,” said Matt Mitchell, director of global marketing of specialty engineered materials at Avient. “These material developments create an opportunity to help divert mountains of valuable resources from the waste stream and upcycle them into new products that offer excellent performance and value.”

An estimated 75 million broken windshields are replaced annually worldwide, which provides an abundant supply of thousands of tons of PVB, according to Avient. Those windshields, unless recycled, normally go to landfills. Shark Solutions has developed a system for reclaiming the PVB and recycling the glass.

Established in 2005, Shark Solutions operates in Denmark and Belgium and more recently expanded to North America with recycling operations in Atlanta and Victorville, Calif., northeast of Los Angeles.

In the United States, Shark Solutions works with a variety of suppliers including auto glass replacement companies, glass distributors, glass manufacturers, vehicle manufacturers, vehicle distributors, municipalities and end-of-life vehicle yards.

“Our mission is to create high-performance raw materials from a former waste stream of laminated glass, instead of allowing it to decompose in landfills over thousands of years,” said Jens Holmegaard, Shark Solutions founder and CEO.

Avient developed the new TPEs in 45 to 55 Shore A durometers (a hardness scale), making them ideal for general-purpose applications in the consumer and automotive industries, according to the company. The performance properties are similar to traditional TPEs. The TPEs are injection moldable and can be overmolded to polypropylene.

The TPEs would be suitable for use in a variety of products including personal care items, lawn and garden tools, golf clubs, footwear and automotive applications including vibration dampening.

Shark Solutions teamed up with manufacturers worldwide to develop markets for its reclaimed.

In October 2020, German carpet manufacturer Anker announced it would be the first company to offer flame retardant carpets for aviation made with a recycled binder. Anker had been looking for a more sustainable binder. Properties of the aviation carpet with PVB as binder are the same as those of traditional non-sustainable carpets, according to a press release from the companies. Devan Chemicals, known for its flame retardant products, helped develop the flame retardant back coating, which is compliant with Airbus and Boeing safety standards.

Initiatives Decoration, a paint manufacturer based in France, sells an interior paint, ECO Respectueuse, which uses PVB-based sustainable resin. Recycled PVB as a raw material helps reduce ID’s carbon footprint and reduce waste in general, according to a statement from the company. It allows the manufacturer to reduce the use of traditional raw materials that are less environmentally friendly, according to Initiatives Decoration.

“We work with these companies and with many others in various industries,” Crivello said. “Key for us is collaborating with companies that have focus on environmentally friendly raw materials to help their products conform with their sustainability goals and stay in-line with customer expectations. These companies realize that they can be more environmentally friendly without jeopardizing costs. Looking forward, we believe these companies will be gaining market share due to consumers growing awareness of more responsible solutions.”

In addition to operating its own PVB processing business, which recycles and transforms PVB fractions into ready-to-use raw materials for industrial applications, Shark Solutions sells two versions of its glass separation technology: a stationary version with a processing capacity of 20-25 tons of laminated glass per hour, and a mobile version, which can process 10-12 tons of laminated glass per hour, according to the company’s website. From a stream of 100 percent weight input of laminated glass, about 90 percent of the output is recycled glass cullets and the remainder is PVB fractions.

Shark Solutions says its worldwide recycling operations are responsible for saving 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year and preventing plastic waste from ending up in landfills.

 Avient Corp., Avon Lake, Ohio, 440-930-1000, www.avient.com

Shark Solutions ApS, Roskilde, Denmark, +45 30 33 06 65, https://shark-solutions.com

About the Author

Bruce Geiselman | Senior Staff Reporter

Senior Staff Reporter Bruce Geiselman covers extrusion, blow molding, additive manufacturing, automation and end markets including automotive and packaging. He also writes features, including In Other Words and Problem Solved, for Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Plastics Recycling and The Journal of Blow Molding. He has extensive experience in daily and magazine journalism.