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Standardisation, biobased and recycled polymers

Textile polyolefins are implemented in a variety of products, some of which are not associated with textile products, such as composites and 3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing. In both cases the textile polyolefins no longer are present in their original state in the final product, but are suitable base materials due to their composition and ease of handling.

This means that standardisation activities concerning textile polyolefins are also no longer limited to the classical materials and product TC's but are expanding towards novel products and applications.

In 3-D printing textile polyolefins can be used as monofilament feed for the printer. This technology has only recently become main stream and is still strongly evolving. The respective CEN TC 438 and ISO TC 261 are therefore quite recent and there are only a handful of published ISO standards available.
For the production of composites the textile polyolefins can be used as filaments (strands) in combination with e.g. other polymers or glass fibres, to produce woven mats or other structures. During a compression and heat treatment process the polyolefins are then molten and the structure becomes a fibre reinforced polyolefin matrix composite. With composite materials evolving and having properties very different from the base materials used, characterisation of these products is important. No separate CEN or ISO committees for Composite materials have been established, but under CEN/TC 249 and ISO /TC 61 Plastics several working groups or sub-committees on this topic have been established during the recent years. These are WG 13 Wood Plastics Composites (WPC) and WG 15 Fibre-reinforced composites under CEN/TC 249, and SC 13 Composites and reinforcement fibres and SC 11/WG 11 Wood-plastic composites under ISO/TC 61.

Another important development over the last years is evolution of the raw materials used for the production of polyolefins. Here no longer only the classical synthetic polymers materials to biobased ones. Also aspects like recycling and re-use on the one hand and biodegradability and compostability on the other hand are gaining importance. Standardisation activities around these topics are primarily on European level in three working groups under CEN/TC 249, being WG 11 Plastics recycling, WG 17 Biopolymers and WG 20 Analytical methods for contaminants in recycled plastics. There is also CEN/TC 411 Bio-based products, focussing on the aspects terminology, sampling, certification tools, bio-based content, application of and correlation towards life cycle analysis, sustainability criteria for biomass used and for final products, and aspects where further harmonization is needed on horizontal level.

As new materials and products are continuously being developed, standardisation has to follow. This means that new committees, sub-committees or working groups are being installed.

Centexbel follows the CEN and ISO committees via its standard cell "Use of recycled plastics and textiles as raw material".

Karin Eufinger, Standards and Technical Regulations Manager