BASF and Security Matters to Develop Recyclate Tracking

21.04.2020 -

Germany’s BASF has signed a binding joint development agreement with Security Matters to leverage the Australian firm’s proprietary technology to develop solutions for plastics traceability and circularity. Specifically, the aim is to enable physical and digital tracking of closed loop mechanical recycling, authenticate sustainability claims and improve sorting of plastic waste.

Currently, recycled plastic loses its mechanical performance properties and quality compared to virgin plastic due to polymer degradation and residual impurities, BASF explains. What’s more, recycling infrastructure is also expensive and complicated, and doesn’t even exist in many parts of the world, the chemical giant said.

The partnership will leverage BASF’s extensive experience in plastic additives, regulatory know-how and understanding of the plastics value chain, with both companies combining combine their R&D capabilities and individual resources.

Security Matters’ track-and-trace solution is said to mark physical objects with a “unique and unalterable” chemical-based barcode before connecting them to a digital twin. The barcode, which is designed to withstand manufacturing and recycling processes without altering the appearance or performance of the object, subsequently captures a wide variety of information embedded in the plastic and can be used for closing the plastic loop, the companies said.

“To tackle the global challenge, we have to rethink plastic applications with their end of life in mind,” said Achim Sties, senior vice president, Performance Chemicals Europe at BASF, adding “it is essential to progress towards a circular economy approach that closes the loop on end-of-life resources and allows us to recover and recycle plastics as efficiently as possible.”

With potentially “game changing technology” that could capture information of the polymer and how the plastic moves through the entire production and distribution process, Sties said the development partners will be able to devise an appropriate additive package for players in the value chain using recycled material to capture more material value and increase resource productivity.

Haggai Alon, founder and CEO of Security Matters, said the collaboration with BASF as the global leader in plastics additives represents the first step in demonstrating how the company’s technology can be used in a circular application.

“By providing transparency of product lifecycles, we can create an entire technology-driven ecosystem that promotes circularity and sustainability for plastics and together can accelerate the progress of the plastic industry towards a more innovative, resilient and productive economy,” Alon said.