Cortec VCI plastic recycling service exemplifies circular economy in action

As the US plastic bag industry seeks to increase the percentage of recycled content in shopping bags to 20% by 2025 for greater sustainability, Cortec has already been in the field of vapour corrosion inhibitor (VCI) packaging with the development of the technology for making anti-corrosion film using recycled plastic resin. The company continues to lead the market with a recycling programme that produces VCI film with up to 20% recycled film content, a level at which Cortec can ensure the quality of the new product.

Cortec manufacturers its VpCI-126 film with 15% pre- and post-consumer recycled content, outpacing American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance’s goals of reaching 10% recycled content shopping bags by 2021, and 15% recycled content bags by 2023. Moreover, Cortec achieved this in a specialised market that helps industries protect metals from corrosion during shipping or storage. Cortec’s VpCI-126 film can be extruded and converted into different formats and sizes depending on the needs of the end user – from the manufacturer looking to protect a small metal gear in a VpCI-126 top-seal bag, to the plant manager looking to preserve a large industrial asset in VpCI-126 film during storage or shipment.

Cortec has been able to minimise its own plastic film waste by recycling in-house VpCI-126 scrap at its Cortec Advanced Films (CAF) plant in Cambridge, Minnesota. The company extended this recycling opportunity to an off-road equipment assembly plant that receives engine components from dozens of suppliers across the US and the world. After assigning a Six Sigma Black Belt to study the proposal, the manufacturer adopted the recycling programme and eliminated its specification of adding oil to VpCI-126 packaging, since testing showed no impact on corrosion protection.

This saved costs by reducing chemical liability insurance, allowing them to reuse corrugated plastic liners that previously had to be disposed due to oil contamination, and allowing them participate in Cortec’s recycling programme. As the VpCI-126 bags are also no longer oil contaminated, the operator bales them and sends them back to CAF for reprocessing into new film.

Cortec also affirmed it commitment of both parties to make the programme work has supported them in establishing a circular economy. The result was that CAF helped saved plastic from landfill or incinerator, and transform it into new product while reducing carbon footprint for both companies.

The same recycling programme is available for European custoemrs at Cortec’s EcoCortec plant in Beli Manastir, Croatia. As a bioplastics plant, EcoCortec is home to Europe’s largest VpCI film extrusion, converting and recycling centre.