By experimenting with recycled water bottles as material for internal components, Océ discovered the drivers and barriers to using recycled plastic in manufacturing
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.
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.
The R&D process has 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 and shine.