Exhibitor interview: Colloids

In this exhibitor interview we caught up with Dr Derek Hepburn, Global Technical Director at Colloids Limited.

Established in 1967, Colloids is a leading global manufacturer of black, colour and functional additives for Engineering Polymers, focussing on specialist, high-performance applications.

Colloids mantra is to provide consistently improved value to customers; this is either through enhanced properties and/ or improved economics.


What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?

Colloids is a leading resource and manufacturer of technically advanced masterbatch solutions,  where we conceive and drive innovation with passion and creativity to enhance customer value.  A significant differentiator for Colloids is our customer journey. We actively work together with our customers to appreciate their needs, translate them into workable solutions to help make their products better.


Are there any new technology developments that your company is working on at the moment?

We are constantly innovating and developing products and processes, but one of the most exciting is our novel work on Graphene Nanocomposites.

Since 2014 we have been working together with the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at Manchester University. This has been such a success; we are sponsoring a full-time PhD to develop further our knowledge and exploitation of 2D nanocomposites.  From our first experiments in producing graphene nanocomposites, we have been actively developing new generations of Graphene enhanced polymer composites and 2D Nanocomposites. From the knowledge we have been able to gain from our early commercialisation of 2D and Graphene Nanocomposites, together with our unique and pivotal position with the Graphene community, we have been able to demonstrate and unlock the potential of these exciting materials.


What are the biggest challenges facing the industry today and how can this be overcome?

As the world deals with the short and long term effects of the global pandemic in the very short term, industry needs to re-optimise and lean supply chains to satisfy a recovering economy. Beyond COVID two main issues are facing the plastic industry, today and into the future.

First is the generalised environmental issue of climate change, which over-arch’s issues such as, carbon emissions and green energy. Secondly, and more focused, plastic solid waste (PSW) recycling and sustainable plastic waste recovery and circularity.

Colloids have several new products and initiatives which are being introduced, where we are confident will help our customers meet these challenges face-on.


How do you see the sector developing in the next five to ten years?

The focus for the polymer industry must be sustainability and owning our products and processes from the “cradle to the grave”.

A simple metaphor can be taken from William Shakespeare’s, As You Like It.  In the play Shakespeare writes,  “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players. They have their exits and entrances and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being several ages”. We can paraphrase Jacques’ seven ages in terms of seven stages in the life of a polymer – production, use, waste generation, waste recovery, reuse, recycle and landfill. We must optimise all the stages to limit energy loss.


What are you most looking forward to at this years’ show?

Beyond being able to socialise away from a computer screen, I am always interested and open to understanding new technologies, materials, applications and understanding how we can have new ways to address challenges the sector is facing.

Colloids will be exhibiting at the Compounding World Expo Europe.