Polypropylene Pipe Compounds with Varying Post-Consumer Packaging Recyclate Content
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The high recycling targets set by the European Commission will create an increased availability of polypropylene (PP) post-consumer recyclates (PCRs). However, no regulations mandate the use of recycled PP (rPP), so the industry is challenged to explore possibilities to utilize such materials. One option, as suggested by the European Commission, is the introduction of rPP in pipe applications. According to existing standards, the use of recyclate is not allowed in pressurized gas and drinking water systems. However, many other pipe and underground applications, such as stormwater systems, open the increased use of PCRs. Additionally, even for less-demanding applications, such as non-pressure sewage systems, highly durable solutions are needed to cover the requested lifetime and request an ambitious property profile to fulfill the application needs that cannot be met by PP packaging materials and even less by PCRs thereof. Hence, this work explores the possible use of commercially available PCRs out of polypropylene from packaging applications in compounds together with virgin PP pipe grades to meet the demands for less-demanding applications. Two different commercially available rPPs and one commercially available recycled polyolefin (rPO) from mixed polyethylene and PP waste were acquired and, together with two predefined virgin PP pipe grades, were blended to compounds in the range of 10 m%, 20 m%, and 30 m% recyclate content. The compounds and three virgin PP pipe grades, acting as benchmarks, were tested in terms of short- and long-term mechanical performance as well as for many other physical properties. All of the compounds showed good results regarding fatigue crack (FCG) resistance with virgin polymer as the reference. The factors influencing FCG resistance, such as melt flow rate and polyolefin cross-contamination, were thoroughly investigated as the used virgin grades and recyclates cover a broad range of these properties.