TPEs can incorporate sustainable content in two ways: using either recycled or bio-based content in the formulations. Both options give brands and OEMs a pathway to more sustainable plastic products that are greener and perform like their petroleum-based counterparts. However, this can impact colorability, which is a critical consideration when the look of the product needs to meet expectations amid the growing demand for sustainable products. Striking the right balance starts with understanding the impact incorporating sustainable content into TPEs can have on aesthetics and then deciding which strategy is right for you.
There are two types of recycled content: post-consumer recycled (PCR) or post-industrial recycled (PIR). PCR is raw material generated from consumer or end-user waste. PIR is raw material made from scrap reclaimed within the manufacturing process. Using recycled content in the formulations can impact colorability and/or surface aesthetics, ultimately influencing material choices made during the design phase.
Bio-based raw material comes from renewable sources like corn, sugarcane, soy, wood, etc. These offer a strong, renewable story and may also give you increased design freedom when it comes to on-brand color and design choices.
TPEs with recycled or bio-based content can be formulated to enable brands to create more sustainable plastic products. Choosing recycled content can be more limiting from a surface aesthetic and colorability standpoint, but brands can share a waste diversion story that supports a circular economy. With bio-based content, design freedom is much broader and brands can promote using a renewable source. Ultimately, choosing the right solution depends on your sustainable goals and aesthetic flexibility.
If you’d like assistance evaluating the pros and cons of using sustainable TPEs in your applications, contact us. Our team of experts has the material and color expertise to determine what will work best in your situation.