Speaker interview: Frank Ruiz, Heritage Plastics

For our next speaker interview, we spoke to Frank Ruiz, Vice President, R&D for Heritage Plastics.

Frank is responsible for the overall R&D direction of the company. This includes the development and commercialization of mineral/polymer additives and compounds for specialty film and extrusion coating applications, and bio-based and bio-degradable/compostable compounds for packaging applications.

He also participates in standards development through membership in ASTM Subcommittees D20.95 on Recycled Plastics and D20.96 on Biodegradable and Bio-based Plastics, as well as monitoring of Federal, state, and local regulations regarding plastics and plastic packaging

How do you see the industry developing and growing in the next three-to-five years? 

The waste management regulatory landscape is accelerating the growth and applications for bio-based and bio-degradable/compostable plastics as a method of waste management and reduction of the carbon footprint of packaging. It is increasing the demand for high-quality recycled plastics that are suitable for use in packaging and other demanding applications. The demand for efficiency in the face of high energy costs will drive the increase in use of plastics as a light weight, sustainable material. The plastics compounding industry is adapting to these requirements, and our materials will continue to be a key to economic sustainability in the future. 


What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?

The demand for the incorporation of recycled plastics will require more infrastructure for collecting and sorting these materials, and the ability to economically recover the polymer(s) utilized to produce them.
The processing of bio-plastics is generally more challenging than that of standard olefin polymers. Many applications require the modification of the bio-polymer or blends of two or more polymers to achieve the desired process and end-product performance.


In your view, what has been the most exciting development in the industry in the last couple of years? And why?

Active and pending legislation, combined with a desire by brand owners to develop more sustainable packaging, is offering compounding companies an opportunity to innovate if they are willing to spend the time and resources. This includes the incorporation of higher levels of recycled material into packaging structures, and to development the compounds and additives for packaging success of bio-based and compostable packaging.

Frank will be talking on the panel on 'Discussing the future of the concentrates industry' at the Compounding World Expo Conference 2022.