Essentra, a leading provider of essential components and solutions, has created a new Centre of Excellence at its manufacturing and distribution site and UK headquarters in Kidlington to test and develop new materials that will in turn enable it to offer even more sustainable product ranges globally for its customers.
Testing will be conducted on both recycled content and various biodegradable and bio-based materials including bio-woods, nylon and Polylactic Acids (PLA) to see how they perform when replacing or added to existing resins used in the manufacture of plastic components. These innovative new materials can reduce the environmental and carbon impact of the products Essentra manufactures, and helps its customers reduce their own carbon footprint.
The Centre of Excellence includes a significant investment in two different types of machine: an all-electric machine and a Servo Drive machine. While both have energy saving benefits, the principal purpose is to enable Essentra to test not only how the materials will behave in the manufacturing process, but also the impact of different types of tooling. The net result is to achieve a more efficient and sustainable process, reducing scrap rates and accelerating speed of delivery.
Scott Fawcett, Chief Executive of Essentra PLC, says that sustainability is at the heart of its operation: “We’re investing in a number of areas from an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) point of view and the Centre of Excellence is the latest example of how sustainability is embedded in our culture. We are investing significantly in the infrastructure to help us test and process new types of materials as well as how to reduce our energy intensity overall.”
A key benefit of the new Centre of Excellence is the access to quantitative data it can provide to explain how a material performs, supported by an investment in Melt Flow Index technology to help predict the behaviour of a polymer in the manufacturing process. This is critical not only for testing materials that are available now, but also materials that might be considered or available in the future and used globally.
Jennifer Spence, Head of Sustainability Strategy at Essentra, says that customers are very much focused on the detail of the materials they are using: “We get many requests from customers around the sustainability aspects of our products,” she explains.
“The Centre of Excellence will support us in providing that data, including embedded emissions, recyclability, and how a material performs at the end of its life – for example whether the product can be re-used, and whether the materials are widely recyclable or biodegradable.”
The new Centre of Excellence will be managed by Chris Butler, Engineering Director, and has a dedicated test engineer: “We’ve already made great strides,” Chris adds, “and currently 20% of our global raw materials comprise recycled content. We have a responsibility to make sure that we do everything we can to make plastic components more sustainable for the future.”