Plastics Technology's Most Popular Columns, Articles in 2014

29. December 2014

Ecover Bottles Feature 'Green' HDPE And Some Post-Consumer Recycled Material

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. December 2014

With a focus on furthering sustainability beyond the use of recycle-content material, along with efficacy and best-practice manufacturing, Sonoco and Ecover are in a packaging partnership for the latter’s cleaning products that uses plant-based HDPE.


One of the largest diversified packaging companies in the world, Sonoco, Hartsville, S.C., has begun producing the new extrusion blow molded bottles for the home-care products line from global ‘green’ cleaning products manufacturer Ecover. With the 2012 acquisition of San Francisco-based Method Products, Ecover Belgium NV made its entry into the North American market and became the world’s largest company of ‘green’ cleaning products, including domestic detergents, cleansing agents, and personal care.


The two companies partnered in the development of Ecover’s Plantplastic blend of bio-sourced HDPE and post-consumer recycled HDPE. Brett Turner, senior marketing communications specialist at Sonoco, confirmed yesterday that 75% of the molecular weight of the bottles comes from the sugar-cane-derived ‘Green’ HDPE produced by Braskem, Philadelphia, and 25% from post-consumer recycled material.


The resin blend is said to use up to 90% less energy, to emit 75% lows greenhouse gases compared to petroleum-based virgin resin, and is recyclable in most curbside recycling programs.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.



PP Prices Drop About Twice More From Last Month

18. December 2014

After dropping by 5ȼ/lb in November, PP contract prices are expected to drop by about 10ȼ/lb this month—all in step with propylene monomer contract price settlements. Scott Newell, director of client services for PP at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), ventures that another 10ȼ or more is likely to come off monomer and PP contract prices next month.


Michael Greenberg, CEO of The Plastics Exchange reported earlier this weeks that PP spot prices dropped further because of the steep contract price reductions but noted that material availability was still tight, supporting higher spot price levels.


Both Greenberg and Newell note that while PP suppliers are getting a 10ȼ/lb relief against their contracted monomer this month and are passing along most of the benefit to processors, several suppliers are aiming to fully implement or hang on to the 2ȼ/lb margin expansion from early fourth quarter.


“Tight supplies could very well enable a level of disconnection from monomer, but the markets will likely drop again in January and this could create a challenge,” Greenberg reported. Meanwhile, both sources note that suppliers have been managing their production output in line with demand, making the market fairly tight. At the same time, ‘buying as needed’ appears to be the order of the day as the year comes to a close and more price decline looms in the very near future.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


PE Prices Drop Further

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. December 2014

Polyethylene contract prices have dropped by 4ȼ/lb this month, for a cumulative price decrease of 7ȼ/lb since November, the first decreases in two years. Mike Burns, v.p. for PE at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), says this latest move has been confirmed by several PE suppliers.


Burns, for one, says it’s very reasonable that an additional drop of 7ȼ/lb can be expected within the first quarter 2015, as suppliers aim to meet global price benchmarks. This is providing that crude oil prices remain below $65/bbl and feedstocks are at current levels. He adds that spot prices dropped further this week, with multiple car offers of all PE resin grades ranging from 63-70ȼ/lb, down from an 80ȼ/lb range in August. He says, cumulative PE supplier inventory is now at the highest levels in at least five years.


Nick Vafiadis, senior director, global polyolefins and plastics at IHS Chemical, also believes that domestic PE prices will have to come down more to meet China’s prices in order not to lose exports and risk finished goods imports. He does note that significant planned and unplanned ethylene production outages this year kept prices up for both monomer and PE. He projects 2015 to be “less of a hard year” and maintains that the question is: will ethylene supply build up now taking place be enough to cover the upcoming scheduled spring maintenance shutdowns, starting in March and ending in May.


Looking ahead, Vafiadis says IHS believes that North American PE prices beyond 2016 will more competitive with global PE prices. IHS also projects that North American plastics processors will increase finished goods they export across the globe, and Vafiadis notes that many processors are already fortified with new and improved processing equipment in anticipation of this…becoming more and more globally competitive as China has been.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


Something New for PET: Injection-Compression-Stretch-Blow Molding

By: Matthew H. Naitove 17. December 2014

At November’s BrauBeviale show in Nuremberg, Germany, SIPA of Italy (U.S. office in Atlanta) has launched Xtreme Syncro, billed as the world’s first injection-compression-stretch-blow molding (ICSBM) system. It brings together SIPA’s Xtreme preform compression molding system with a high-speed stretch-blow unit.


As reported in our K 2013 show wrap-up last February, the Xtreme continuous, rotary injection-compression system reportedly produces preforms up to 10% lighter than any made by conventional injection molding, but without sacrificing key properties. Before now, the maximum length-to-wall-thickness ration (L/t) of a preform was little more than 45; but Xtreme technology is claimed to make an 80 L/t ratio a commercial reality.


Injection-compression simplifies thin-wall molding by having the molds slightly open when injection starts, then closing them as dosing finishes. This means lower injection pressure, lower clamp force, and less stress on the melt, which means less acetaldehyde (AA) generation and less reduction in IV.


Xtreme’s mechanical layout is similar to rotary stretch-blow machines. It is all-pneumatic, with no hydraulics. Molds are mounted in blocks of three on a high-speed carousel fed by an extruder that runs continuously. It delivers melt to dosing devices directly under the preform molds.


In the new system, preform molding is directly coupled to SIPA’s latest SFR EVO3 rotary reheat stretch-blow unit (also discussed last February), which can put out 2250 bottles/hr per cavity. The Xtreme portion alone is said to cut energy use around 10% through lower temperatures and pressures. And integration with the bottle blowing system eliminates most of the need to reheat the preforms. Conventional IR ovens are replaced by small ovens that use highly efficient induction heating directed only at areas of the preforms just below the neck. The system can also be connected directly to SIPA’s bottle filling system.

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