Speaker Interview

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About the Fire Resistance in Plastics 
Virtual Summit 

Ahead of the Fire Resistance in Plastics Virtual Summit we are gathering a series of insights from our expert speakers. 

In this latest interview, we spoke to Marc Leifer and Lein Tange from ICL-IP, who will be presenting their paper titled 'Who is afraid of brominated flame retardants' on 23 - 25 February 2021.

23 - 25 February 2021

Please tell us about your current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

Marc: Global Technical Marketing Support Manager, responsible for customers' technical support worldwide for flame retardants applications. The TMS team is the interface between ICL flame retardants and the market's needs and applications. 

Lein: Employed by ICL since 1993 and responsible for supporting ICL for plastics containing flame retardants being part of a circular economy. Beside this role also founder and director of a company PolyStyreneLoop since 2017 and responsible for building and starting a demoplant handling plastics with BFRs (EPS/XPS and HBCD).  In addition I am representing ICL in the different recycling projects of developing innovative technologies to be able to recycle ABS and HIPS containing BFRs into new polymers and recover the bromine using the bromine recovery unit at ICL Terneuzen.

What are the current challenges you face in the industry?

Marc: As numerous and non-scientific rumours are spread nowadays around flame retardants, I would say our main challenge is to show and prove commercial flame retardants are: 

  • In full accordance with all global regulations

  • Essential for effective fire safety 

  • Allow achieving the highest and most stringent fire safety standards 

  • Cost efficient

Lein: To mobilise the value chain and form a team to run the different recycling projects and have all expertise present. Further the collection of plastics waste is a main challenge as often this waste can be incinerated at lower costs or even possibly illegally mixed or exported from Europe.
Finally creating an economical incentive to have recycle plants for WEEE and ELV plastics containing FRs is a challenge as so far the extended producer responsibility schemes are often not enough to invest in this industry.

How do you see the flame-retardant industry developing in the next year and beyond?

Marc: Emerging, sophisticated technologies will require improved, better performing flame retardants solutions. This is especially true for New Energy Vehicles and 5G communication platforms. Among the improved performances required, it is worthwhile to mention high voltages resistance, chemical and hydrolytic stability and electrical properties.
As recycling is becoming more and more a crucial issue, it is important the industry delivers overall traceable, sortable and recyclable solutions.

Lein: There is a strong trend into new flame retardants which are polymeric based or reactive use into the final polymer. Due to the trend of electrification there is a much stronger need to use flame retardants especially in E&E and automotive applications.  Because of the strong trend of more elderly people fire safety will be more relevant to save life.

You will be speaking at the Fire Resistance in Plastics Virtual Summit, could you give us a little preview on what you will be talking about?

Both: An overview will be given on how plastics with FRs can be part of a circular economy and also what are the challenges economic and technically wise. Scale up from R&D up to demo plant and full-scale plant is time consuming and it needs to explain why these large projects take so much time.

What impact has COVID-19 had on the industry? How has it affected your company?

Marc: Fortunately enough and as far as we can see now, the impact of Covid-19 on the industries ICL is linked to has been small. And in a somewhat paradoxical way, the fact many of our colleagues and peers have spent most of 2020 working from home, the modern communication ways have improved our regular contacts.

Lein: The “emotional” effects like not being able to work with or see colleagues is challenging to keep people motivated. As for the recycling activities, a lot of hands-on work is needed it is strongly affecting R&D, scaling up activities and construction of the PSLoop demo plant.

The 2020 edition of our long standing Fire Resistance in Plastics event will now take place as a Virtual Summit on 23 - 25 February 2021. Three days of online knowledge sharing and discussion that will bring together stakeholders from across the FR industry. 

This event provides opportunities to learn from the experience of key players from all areas of the FR industry and to network with the whole FR community - all from the safety of your own home or office.

Head to our event webpage to book your place today!

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Marc Leifer
Global Technical 
Support Manager

Lein Tange
Sustainability Director