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PMMA – your material for circular design challenges?

PMMA, or acrylic, has been one of the world’s most commonly used plastics since its invention in the 1930s, used in everything from cars and homes to architecture and construction. Now, it’s moving into a fully circular future as Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (MCM) drives a major recycling project.

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Making supply chains circular

In a global economy, complex supply chains can make it difficult to track information about the origin of materials. How do consumers know whether the product they’re buying comes from sustainable sources or contains recycled content? How can this be improved?

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Making supply chains circular

In a global economy, complex supply chains can make it difficult to track information about the origin of materials. How do consumers know whether the product they’re buying comes from sustainable sources or contains recycled content? How can this be improved?

A promising collaboration between Mitsubishi Chemical and GreenToken by SAP may have the answer. 

What does this involve?

A pilot project was undertaken with the Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (MCM) supply chain, using GreenToken’s blockchain technology. It will allow us to trace raw material from the exact source of origin to the final product.

To make these complex supply chains more transparent, GreenToken uses tokens that represent the origins of a fixed amount of raw material – for example, 10kg of raw material could be represented by 10 tokens. Different coloured tokens are used depending on the material’s origin, such as green for recycled materials or red for conventional.

These tokens are recorded on what’s known as a blockchain ledger. As the material moves along the supply chain, the tokens move from one supply chain member’s digital wallet to the next, creating a secure tracing history. Comparing the ratio of green to red tokens gives customers the instant circular content of their new product.

How could this be used by MCM?

We’re currently working towards launching a recycling plant to break down end-of-life acrylic (PMMA) into its original building block, MMA, using a process called molecular recycling. This will then be used to produce 100% circular MMA and circular PMMA.

The GreenToken by SAP solution would prove with certainty that a consumer’s PMMA material comes from either partially or fully recycled sources, with transparency and trust being the key.

Helen Nicklin, Procurement Manager at MCM, says:

“The use of block chain technology allows companies to be open and transparent about the recycled or bio content of their products. It can work alongside schemes such as ISCC+ to provide an auditable chain to consumers.”