Earlier this month at the 2015 R&D Awards and Technology Conference in Las Vegas, two advanced flexible packaging technologies from Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics business, were among the winners.
The 53-yr-old R&D 100 Awards, sponsored by R&D magazine, Rockaway, N.J., recognizes advances in testing equipment, chemistry, biomedical products, consumer items and more. Dow received an award under the Mechanical Devices/Materials category for its novel PE Stand-Up Pouch. It also received an award under the Green Technology category for PacExpert bottle technology for which the company is the exclusive global licensee through an agreement with co-developer Smart Bottle, Inc., Asheville, N.C.
I checked in with key Dow sources following the awards announcement for some clarification and a bit of an update as to the direction to which these technologies are headed. Here’s what I learned:
PE Stand Up Pouch: This technology is targeted to packaging of both frozen and dried foods, and is suitable for recycling in communities with existing PE film recycling streams and eligible to use the How2Recycle label. The PE stand-up pouch consists of several layers of Dow’s high performance PE grades that offer stiffness, high temperature, toughness, and sealability—a combination that is necessary to duplicate the performance of the traditional multi-material, multi-layered pouches. The big advantage is the recyclability of the PE stand-up pouch with existing PE film recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off, stresses global development leader Lamy Chopin.
Chopin further explains that Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics is focused on developments that extent the performance of PE into areas where PET or other material are often used, most specifically by enabling the creation of products that are recyclable. One example, is Opolux XGT, a high-temperature, high-gloss varnish applied to surface-printed PE film, which broadens the processing window of the films—and, as such, expanding the PE film performance while maintaining the recyclability. In a recent trial, Dow was able to demonstrate an increase in upper temperature limit for pouch-making equipment of 100˚F. In fact, according to Chopin, the film coated with Opulux HGT sealed at the highest temperature the equipment would tolerate, and made stand-up pouch formats at up to 200 pouches per minute.
Chopin also acknowledges that aside from temperature resistance, PET in laminate films can offer barrier and stiffness. However, Dow has recently equaled and exceeded the barrier performance of PET laminate with a new barrier adhesive technology, which is said to allow reverse-printed, all-PE packaging designs which have aroma barrier and are still viable for store drop-off recycling programs.
Dow has also developed new options to make traditional PE+EVOH barrier structures compatible for use in the store drop-off recycling programs. The company is also exploring options to increase the film stiffness using Dow’s new Innate Precision Packaging Resins, a new family of polyethylene resins that is aimed at addressing key challenging performance gaps in flexible packaging, most notably: unmatched stiffness/toughness balance, processing ease and improved sustainability profiles.
PacXpert Packaging Technology: This is the flexible, lightweight alternative to rigid packaging bottles that requires less material to manufacture and allows for more efficient shipping, for which Dow obtained the global license in early 2014. Dow sources confirm that the PacXpert ‘bottles’ may be made from numerous flexible materials including PE, nylons, and/or foils or a combination of these materials and bonded together with laminated adhesives or functionalizes tie layers.
The technology is fast gaining significant play in the market. Dow has sub-licensed the technology to several converters, and is assisting them to commercialize the packages and work with them to create broad pull-though demand from brand owners. They include:
• O.Kleiner A.G, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe. Company will produce packages enabled by the technology and will sell the packages to their customer base under the “Brainypack” name.
• Ampac, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in North America. Company will produce packages with this technology and sell them to their customer base under the Ampac CubePak name.
• China Sun, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in The People’s Republic of China.
• Darplas, a leading producer of liquid and barrier packaging in Latin America, is authorized to produce packages in Colombia, to sell to its customers in the Andean region, Central America, and the Carribean.
• Camada, part of the Grupo Embalo and one of the largest producers of flexible packaging in Brazil, is authorized to sell in Brazil.
• KRW Machinery, is authorized to sell in North America.
• Lord Plasticos, a privately-owned company with more than 40 years in the Brazilian market is authorized to sell in Brazil.
• Valifil, a flexible film and packaging converter, is also authorized to sell in Brazil.
• Leygapack, flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe.
• Kyodo Printing Co., Ltd., is authorized to sell in Japan.