2024 plastics sustainability awards announced

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has announced the winners of its 2024 Plastic Sustainability Innovation Awards recognizing the outstanding innovations in plastics manufacturing that further environmental advantages in design, material, and end-of-life management.

The Sustainability Innovation Award ceremony will take place at NPE2024 in Orlando, Fla. on May 8th.

Sustainable Innovation in Design Award

Eastman is the winner of the design award for their New Molecular Recycling Facility. Eastman’s new material-to-material molecular recycling facility in Tennessee is the largest in the world with the capacity to process 110,000 metric tons of polyester waste that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. Eastman’s process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20-50% when compared to traditional processes.

“Our innovations are driven with a specific goal in mind – to solve the world’s greatest challenges by creating the most sustainable materials,” said Scott Ballard, Eastman Plastics Division president.

“Eastman’s strategy is focused on leading principles where our purpose, leadership and actions continue to guide us toward carbon neutrality, circularity and caring for society. Our teams have been working incredibly hard on these challenging issues and we are honored to be selected for this important recognition.”

Sustainable Innovation in Materials Award

Bantam Materials UK Ltd. is the winner of the materials award for their Prevented Ocean Plastic Initiative. Bantam Materials UK Ltd. creates a market for discarded PET in countries with severely lacking recycling systems. Through this work, they have directly supported the construction of 13 collection centres, generated over 500,000 bottle collector workdays, created nearly 2,000 jobs, and prevented more than two billion bottles from entering the ocean.

“We’re so proud that the Plastics Industry Association has recognized our program,” said Raffi Schieir, director of Bantam Materials UK Ltd.

“Innovation in plastic technology is crucial, and we must continue to look deeper and make real progress to support the circular economy. Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is focused on preventing discarded plastic from polluting our oceans, protecting our environment, supporting coastal communities, and ultimately offering businesses, brands, and consumers a better plastic choice.”

Sustainable Innovation in End-of-Life Award

Ultra-Poly Corporation is the winner of the end-of-life award for their ELV Bumper Recycling Program. Ultra-Poly Corporation developed a complete reverse logistics collection program with autobody shops for bumper covers, a previously wasted material. They recycle about 1.2M lbs./yr. The recycled pellets are now in commercial production of a Wheel Outer Liner for GM heavy duty pick-up trucks, completing vehicle-to-vehicle circularity.

“Ultra-Poly is thrilled to receive this recognition from PLASTICS,” said Kevin Cronin, Ultra-Poly’s VP of sustainability and R&D.

“It is especially meaningful because this entire endeavour actually began as a PLASTICS NEMO (New End- Market Opportunity) project. We are particularly proud of the fact that this is essentially the first large volume, vehicle-to-vehicle circularity success for plastic materials and are excited about the potential of using this creative approach to expand ELV (End of Life Vehicle) plastic recycling.”

Leadership in Sustainability Innovation Award

The Leadership Award, the award for the company with the best overall score across the three categories, was awarded to Polycarbin for their Circular Economy for Laboratory Plastics and Carbin Counter Platform.

Polycarbin has a complete closed loop system for collecting, recycling, and re-manufacturing laboratory plastic products such as pipette tips, tubes, tube racks, etc. They also provide a tracking software, Carbin Counter, that relays the information back to users in the form of meaningful metrics including scope 3 emission reductions, water conservation, landfill diversion, and more.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Leadership in Plastic Sustainability Innovation Award from The Plastics Industry Association on behalf of Polycarbin,” said CEO James O’Brien. “This recognition demonstrates our dedication to scaling a plastics circular economy within the life science and healthcare sector. We are grateful to be acknowledged for our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. It is truly inspiring to be surrounded by fellow industry leaders who share our commitment to advancing plastic circularity. Most of all, we want to thank the community of scientists and innovators that have partnered with Polycarbin to reduce the carbon footprint of innovation.”