Recycling : Recycled plastic becomes beautiful: Sirmax focuses on car interiors of tomorrow


Sirmax Lab: Sirmax focuses on "wood or marble effect" recycled plastic for car interiors.

- © Sirmax

To meet the increasing demand for materials for global customers, Sirmax is investing abroad. After investments in the US, the Indian plant in Palwal will be upgraded, and a third plant will be built in the Asian country by 2026. The company's primary focus is currently on appliances – a core sector for Sirmax, for which it now holds the UL Yellow Paper HB certification for recycled material – and the automotive sector, particularly car interiors and materials for electric mobility. Sirmax will be exhibiting at Fakuma in Hall B2, booth 2207.

Simax's latest frontier in product innovation lies in its Naturally Inspired material range. Through special finishes and embossing, polymers from this range can simulate natural effects such as stone, marble, granite, fabric, wood, or a starry sky. Depending on customer specifications and their CO2 reduction goals during the product's lifecycle, the percentage of post-consumer and bio-based materials within the formulation can be included in different percentages.

With the Naturally Inspired line, Sirmax proposes a new interpretation of automotive components. It does this by recreating the tactile and visual experiences of natural materials and by offering alternative design materials for car interiors. This approach also reduces the use of fabric upholstery, saving assembly time and costs.

Sirmax has developed a recycled plastic door panel material that can address problems related to the maintenance of mechanical properties, unwanted odors, and the presence of volatile organic compounds on the surface of interior finishes. The Italian company has formulated a polypropylene compound with 5% talc additive and containing 30% recycled material derived from post-consumer waste (dumpster waste). This compound from the Green Isofil family resembles the mechanical and aesthetic characteristics of virgin plastic, offering a valid alternative. The Sirmax-branded door panel offers an innovative solution: The improved material retains impact or scratch-resistant properties, resolves stickiness and odor, but, most importantly, its carbon footprint is reduced by up to 21% compared to 100% virgin raw material. This solution is part of a wider range of materials that can result in sustainable door panels but can also be applied to other car parts like the glove compartment and center console.

"We are achieving excellent results in the automotive sector thanks to the work of our R&D centers," stated Sirmax Group President and CEO Massimo Pavin. "The automotive world is going through an epochal transformation – the increasing adoption of the electric car is undeniable proof of this. But there are also issues around post-consumer plastic use and end-of-life waste. Car manufacturers are asking questions about redesigning cars that can be sustainable even after they are used, and we are accompanying them on this transformative journey."

At Fakuma 2023, in addition to the compound intended for the automotive sector, the Sirmax Group will be presenting some formulations for the electrical and appliance sector, derived from pre-consumer plastic. These materials are specifically engineered for switch plates or small appliances The recycled material from industrial waste is additivated with special pigments with a dotted effect that emphasize its origin. These formulations meet a particular market demand from clients who seek recycled material and wish to highlight it in order to declare their sustainability efforts. The coloured dots within the polymer matrix used, that can be of different colours, represent the "differently aesthetic" nature of a material that implies a strong environmental decision.

Increased production in the US and India

To meet market demands, the Sirmax Group is not slowing down on investments and is boosting production at its international plants. After dedicating an entire production line to its polypropylene-based flame-retardant compound at its US facility in Anderson (Indiana), Sirmax has turned to the two plants in India, a joint venture with the Tipco Group (Autotech-Sirmax India Pvt. Ltd.). Two major expansion projects are planned here. The first involves upgrading the existing Palwal plant.

New investments in machinery were unveiled last month with the installation of advanced, high-speed, high-yield extruders, along with laboratory equipment. The production space will be expanded by approximately 7,000 square meters for a capacity increase of 15ktpa (thousand tons per year). There will be an additional 4 lines, along with new warehouses and automated material handling systems. This will lead to a total plant production capacity of more than 30ktpa. The second project involves the construction of a new greenfield plant in southern India, near the Bangalore-Hosur region. Land has already been acquired where the third Indian plant – Sirmax’s 14th globally – will be built, bringing the Group's total production capacity in India to more than 82ktpa. The company's new expansion, for which a total investment of about €6 million (500 million Indian rupees) is planned, will not only contribute to the development of the local community by creating jobs, but will also help meet the demand for Autotech-Sirmax materials in the electric mobility, electrical & electronic components, and appliance sectors.

"I am very proud of the expansion projects in India," adds President Pavin. "These actions will consolidate the partnership between Sirmax and the Tipco Group and lay the foundation for even greater future growth than we have experienced thus far. Upgrading of the Palwal site and building the new plant, which will be ready by 2026, will enable us to further strengthen our position in the Indian and Southeast Asian markets."Sirmax will not just be sharing product news at Fakuma. The Group has just received the UL Yellow Paper HB certification. This prestigious accreditation is issued by Underwriters Laboratories and guarantees the flame a specific behavior of a plastic material following laboratory tests. Fire resistance tests were carried out on Green Isofil and Green Isoglass (two product families with different percentages of recycled plastic) for the home appliance sector. Sirmax is among the first companies to bring UL certification to the appliance sector and to have Yellow Paper certified recycled material suitable for home appliances. Materials that are easily used and extended for other sectors and applications.

About Sirmax Group: Sirmax Group, with headquarters in Cittadella (Padua), is the leading independent European manufacturer, and among the top global manufacturers, of polypropylene compounds, engineering polymers, post-consumer compounds and bio-compounds used across all sectors: automotive, household appliances, power tools, electrical & electronics, construction, and furniture. Active since the 1960s, today Sirmax boasts 13 production plants: Six in Italy (Cittadella, Tombolo, Isola Vicentina, San Vito Al Tagliamento, Salsomaggiore Terme, and Mellaredo di Pianiga), two in Poland (2006-2019), one in Brazil (2012), two in the US (2015-2020) and two in India (2017). Sirmax also has a sales office in Milan, Italy, and other branches in France, Spain, and Germany. Sirmax has acquired significant market shares in Europe, North and South America and Asia, and has become a global player on the international market. In 2022, the Sirmax Group had a turnover of €501 million and employed 850 people worldwide.