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By experimenting with recycled water bottles as material for internal components, Océ discovered the drivers and barriers to using recycled plastic in manufacturing

varioprint 135 circular economy

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Netherlands

Language for original content:

Project elaborated in partnership: 
Yes

Scope:

Start/End date: 
01/2017
Ongoing: 
Yes

Type of funding:

Description: 

The varioPRINT 135 range is a multifunctional black-and-white printer used in office environments. Océ has used its development process as an opportunity to test whether recycled plastics can be applied successfully in manufacturing printers and succeeded in using 30% recycled polycarbonate (PC) in a PC+ABS blend when designing a non-visible internal support bar.

In order to comply with precise regulatory standards for electric and electronical products, the recycled PC is made from post-consumer water bottles. Their food-approved status enabled the company to know which substances the material did not contain, which helped reduce the cost of funding tests and registrations for flammability assessments.

Océ succeeded in manufacturing this component from a recycled PC-ABS mix and the shift to Green Public Procurement provides a clear business case for R&D with secondary raw materials, but substantial financial barriers prevent Océ from scaling its uptake of recycled plastic. Not only is the purchasing cost of recycled material higher than virgin plastic, but continuous availability of the material is not guaranteed as well and might increase the cost of production due to interruptions.

For more information about Océ's experience with manufacturing using recycled plastic, view the video about this R&D process below:

Main results: 

Experimenting with using recycled plastic in printer manufacturing has enabled Océ to design an internal support bar with 30% recycled polycarbonate sourced from post-consumer waste bottles. The R&D process itself has additionally enabled the project partners to identify the following barriers to circular manufacturing:

  • price incentives: with virgin plastics being cheaper, there is no business case for investment in R&D with recycled polymers
  • chemical safety regulations (REACH, RoHS) increase the cost of R&D for recycled materials, with registering and testing UL for flammability classification perceived as being too expensive
  • strategic alignment through a value chain is necessary to ensure secondary raw materials are continuously available and material properties are comparable to virgin material
  • consumers have aesthetic preferences for virgin colour, texture, shine