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Are Cartons Or Pouches Serious Contenders For PET Water Bottles?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. July 2014

Is water packaging like milk carton-like boxes or for that matter stand-up pouches likely to pose a threat to PET bottles?

 

Michigan-based Boxed Water is Better, the originator of the carton water packaging, has expanded its reach since its inception in 2009, to 14 states plus Canada and Australia, with 56 distributors and over 6000 stores in the U.S. It is also generating large revenue by supplying boxed water to music festivals such as Lollapalooza in Chicago. The company says it “recyclable” cartons are made of 76% renewable resource, and that the trees used to make their boxes come from certified, well-managed forests. It also ships its boxes flat to its filler which is significantly more efficient compared to shipping empty plastic or glass bottles.

 

I asked John Maddox, president of SBA-CCI consultancy and a 34-year PET expert to give us his take. “I’ve drunk water from these containers (at an undisclosed paper container supplier). It is absolutely deplorable! The PE liner taste made it undrinkable…so, on taste alone, it will be a loser.” He also sees total life cycle a problem noting that mixed materials pose major hurdles on recycling and that, without recycling, the whole life cycle analysis falls apart.  On a positive note, shipping and shelf cube are good and graphics are awesome, he says.

 

One my colleagues remarked that he dislikes gable-top cardboard “boxes”, noting how unpleasant they are to open and that they appear low-class compared with a PET bottle, especially the newer ones with a wide mouth and a giant cap. Personally, I doubt I would ever want to jog or go to the gym carrying boxed water though I might think of it as an option for my disaster preparedness kit.

 

Another colleague says he can see water going to stand-up pouches, noting, “With how flimsy PET bottles are now, we’re practically there.”  Maddox concedes that stand-up pouches, which he says often don’t stand, are really hot right now.  He says that for lunch boxes and hiking trips, they might be a good alternative but sees taste still being an issue, unless the inner layer is a PET coating.

 

He also emphasizes the attractive feature of resealability on a water bottle versus pouches which he says don’t deliver a very attractive resealable closure. “If they do, then the cost is up and then you have the option of a very flimsy PET bottle with a cap. In fact, I squeeze down my partially consumed PET water bottles. They do not roll away, they take up less space, and squeezing them helps dispense the contents. When empty, I squeeze them all the way flat, replace the cap so they stay that way and contribute to smaller volumes going into recycle bins, recycling transportation, or perhaps even a landfill. So, why make a ‘stand-up’ pouche for water? We already have them…a 9-gram PET bottle!”

 

Please don’t hesitate to let us know your take on this! 

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

Nanodiamonds 'Shine' As Thermal Fillers For Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. July 2014

Nanodiamonds (NDs) might sound extravagant for use as thermal fillers in plastics, but Finland’s Carbodeon (U.S. rep. is SiliconSense of Nashua, N.H.) has made significant strides by refining its functionalized nanodiamonds which can deliver a performance increase of 20-100% and allow similar performance improvements with 70% less ND use, greatly reducing their cost.

 

Carbodeon CTO Vesa Myllymaki says the company is now selling its uDiamond nanodiamonds (ND) in either their powder or dispersion form. “As dispersions, the ND particles are fully dispersed in chosen liquid media—as such, they are available as their primary particles without agglomeration. What this means is that the customer can benefit from the entire available surface area of NDs, giving better performance with less material and cost.  While the company is not currently selling the NDs in masterbatch form, this is one of the future options. The company is targeting manufacturers of thermally conductive polymers and compounds as well as thermal filler manufacturers, as NDs can be formulated with established thermally conductive fillers such as boron nitride and alumina.

 

The performance achieved by uDiamond fillers is a combination of diamond’s extremely high thermal conductivity, Carbodeon’s ability to optimize the ND filler affinity to a range of thermoplastics and other thermal fillers, and its improvements in ND filler agglomeration control.  Says Myllymaki, “With the ability to control these parameters, the nanotechnology key paradigm of ‘less gives more’ can truly be realized.” He notes that the active surface chemistry inherent in detonation-synthesized nanodiamonds has historically presented difficulties in utilizing the potential benefits of the 4-6 nm particles, making them prone to agglomerations. Carbodeon functionalizes the surface of NDs with a patented graphite-based coating so that the particles are driven to disperse and to become consistently integrated throughout the plastic.

 

Late last year, the company published data showing the conductivity of nylon 66-based thermal compounds could be increased by 25% by replacing 0.1% by wt. of the typically maximum effective level of boron nitride (45%) with NDs. In addition, the company recently was granted a patent on nanodiamond-containing thermoplastic thermal composites.

While still more costly than boron nitride or alumina, the enhanced NDs can be used in applications such as thermoplastic LED secondary heat sinks as co-additives with existing fillers. “While there are certain limits on, for example, boron nitride loadings, the overall performance can now be pushed forward with a minimum replacement of existing filler material with our NDs. If a customer wishes to reduce the standard filler concentration but retain certain thermal performance—either to reduce component weight or excess wear of production tools-- according to our calculations, it is cheaper to do this with NDs than with boron nitride materials,” he says. 

Study Urges Companies To Disclose Data On Plastic

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 16. July 2014

A new report, Valuing plastic; the business case for measuring, managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer good industry, reportedly represents the first-ever assessment of the environmental costs of plastic in business. It calculates the amount to plastic used by stock exchange listed companies in sixteen consumer good sectors and assesses levels of corporate disclosure on plastic. It aim is to help companies understand the risks and opportunities of plastic and build a business case for improving its management.

 

Prepared by natural capital analyst Trucost, it was commissioned by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and the United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP). Trucost calculates the total natural capital cost of plastic in the consumer good industry to be more than $75 billion/yr. The cost comes from a range of environmental impacts including the harm done by plastic litter to wildlife in the ocean and the loss of valuable resources when plastics waste is sent to the landfill rather than being recycled.

 

The consumer goods sectors assessed are: athletic goods, automobiles, clothing and accessories, consumer electronics, durable household goods, food, footwear, furniture, medical and pharmaceutical products, non-durable household goods, personal products, retail, restaurants and bars, tobacco, toys and soft drinks.

 

When I attended the Plasticity Forum 2014 last month, Trucost CEO Richard Mattison gave this overview:

 

• The analysis identifies a range of risks and opportunities facing companies that are intensive users of plastic, as well as investors.

• The toy, athletic goods and durable household goods sectors use the most plastic in products per $1 million revenue.

• The retail, restaurant and tobacco sectors use the most plastic per $1 million revenue in their supply chains.

• Food companies are by far the largest contributor to the total natural capital cost of plastic used in the consumer goods industry—over $75 bn/yr, responsible for 23% of the total.

• The toy sector has by far the highest natural capital intensity, at 3.0% of revenue.

• Companies in the food, soft drinks and non-durable household goods sectors have the largest natural capital costs in absolute terms.

• Companies in the toy, athletic goods and footwear sectors have the highest natural capital intensity.

• Over 30% of the natural capital costs come from greenhouse gas emissions released upstream in the supply chain.

• The impacts of plastic vary around the world, based on background conditions and management practices.

• Levels of disclosure on plastic are poor. Only around half of the 100 companies assessed reported at least one item of quantitative data on plastic.

• Currently, there is no correlation between a sector’s disclosure rate and its plastic intensity or absolute natural capital cost due to plastic.

 

Mattison explained that in order to provide a sense of scale, the report sets out to quantify the physical impacts of plastic use translated into monetary terms. This metric can be seen as the current value-at-risk to a company, should these external impacts be realized internally through mechanisms like strengthened regulation, loss of market share, or increased price of raw materials and energy. This metric can also be used to understand the magnitude of the tangible benefits to stakeholders, including shareholders, of using plastic in an environmentally sustainable way.

 

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

 

First Business Accelerator For Solutions To Plastic Pollution

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 12. July 2014

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the third annual Plasticity Forum at NYC’s Tribeca Rooftop which aims to share the wealth of knowledge from the leading edge of those who are facilitating a world where plastic is used, but without the footprint.

 

According to Douglas Woodring, founder of Plasticity Forum, Ocean Recovery Alliance, this means all of the benefits of lightweighting, durability, flexibility, and color, without the “hangover”, referring to plastics pollution.  As in the first two forums held in Rio and Hong Kong, Plasticity brings together the leaders in innovation, design, packaging, materials, recycling, and solutions—all needed in a resource-constrained world, says Woodring. 

 

One of several interesting presentations was made by Destin Layne, a founding partner and COO of Think Beyond Plastic Accelerator, Inc., reportedly the world’s first business accelerator for solutions to plastic pollution through innovation and entrepreneurship. It was first launched at U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s Conference on the Oceans and at Plasticity 2014. 

 

Described as a public benefit corporation, it was created to inspire and incubate entrepreneurship; to accelerate early- and mid-stage businesses with a proven business model, a solid management team and an innovative solution to plastic pollution, and to provide pre-qualified opportunities for investors and brands—all with a focus on sustainable, non-toxic and healthy alternatives to the current disposable plastic products. Think Beyond Plastic’s executive team has a blended experience in innovation, entrepreneurship, science, sustainability, major brand management and repositioning, and early stage business finance. The initial group of businesses in the Accelerator portfolio—each with “groundbreaking technologies” reducing plastic pollution-- include Plastipure, PulpWorks, Aspenware, and NewGen Surgical.

 

I had the pleasure of talking with Rob Chase, president of California-based NewGen Surgical on their newly launched NGS35W Skin Stapler, which appears to be the most environmentally sustainable option in the current market of single-use skin staplers.

 

Other skin staplers on the market are typically made with, for example, Cycoloy PC/ABS from Sabic Innovative plastics. Using its Smart Sustainable Design, NewGen Surgical developed the new device with 69% plant-based material. More specifically, the body of the device (handle/lever) is made of bagasse, the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice. Chase notes, “By resourcing bagasse, we have achieved a 67% reduction in energy used for production of the skin stapler’s material compared to the same product made of 100% plastic.”

 

Chase shares that the product is made using a wet thermoforming process. The material, which comes in a slurry form, is placed into the mold where the water is pressed out, then air dried into its rigid shape. “We use the medical grade PC/ABS in the part of the skin stapler that delivers the surgical stainless-steel staples. Physicians can expect the same clinical performance as the all-plastic  skin staplers, as well as ergonomic design, tactile feedback when the firing cycle is complete, an alignment indicator for accurate staple placements, and an easy-to-see staple remaining indicator.

 

NewGen Surgical’s sustainability efforts also extended to the use of single-plastic packaging for the device—HDPE makes up both the tray and lid of the package. The company is now focusing on similar sustainable solutions for other medical single-use devices that are not reprocessed, but end up in landfills or incineration.

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

 

Want To Know More About The Broad Options For Plastics Decoration and Surface Treatment?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. July 2014

Whether you are making plastic parts or products for automotive, consumer electronics or packaging, you are quite aware of how molded thermoplastics are increasingly achieving new heights in decorative appearance and quality.

 

Many striking aesthetic effects are now possible by employing new polymer blends coupled with a diverse range of decoration and surface treatment technologies. They can product 3D and tactile finishes, high-definition images, flawless high gloss and metallic surfaces, as well as effects ranging from imitation materials, interferential colors, color gradients, color change and travel, gloss and matte combinations, and even acoustic or olfactory effects.

 

Manufacturing processes to achieve these effects include several types of in-mold film, coating or decorating technique, relatively recent technologies to improve surface quality, as well as traditional separate decorating or coating processes such as dry offset, flexographic; inkjet; pad and screen printing; foil transfer; labelling; laser marking; plating; spray coating; and vacuum deposition. The new publication, “Innovation Trends in Plastics Decoration and Surface Treatment”, from UK’s Smithers Rapra analyzes and compares recent trends in each of over 20 types of mainstream manufacturing processes and 10 classes of sensory effects they can produce.

 

According to author and consultant Ed Crutchley the book covers well over 1000 different innovations. Raw materials covered include: color or reflectivity change materials and additives; effect and other special color materials; films, foils and labels; inks, paints, coatings; and substrate polymer resins, blends and additives. In-mold processes addressed include: coloration, co-injection, multilayer molding, multiple material molding; in-mold coating, on-mold painting; in-mold film techniques; in-mold printing, marking, or use of engraved cavities; and, in-mold surface improvement.

The sixteen stand-alone or in-line processes discussed range from atmospheric plasma deposition or thermal spray and foil transfer processes to laser and irradiative marking and liquid coating techniques and pigment orientation techniques to sublimation printing and vacuum deposition. The $140 book can be ordered at www.polymer-books.com

 

 




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