PT Blog

I first reported on Millad NX 8000—a PP clarifier derived from a then ‘new’ class of molecules based on nonitol, developed by Milliken Chemical, Spartanburg, S.C., 11 years ago. Since then, there was more reporting in terms of this clarifier’s performance in an ever-growing number of consumer applications and well-documented energy-saving benefits. Downstream customers, particularly in Asia, have now begun to  leverage the latter to their manufacturing advantage and the resulting UL Environmental Claim Validation (ECV) label to their marketing advantage.

Milliken has collaborated with the China Plastic Housewares Association to help broaden awareness of the energy consumption reductions that can be achieved by using Millad NX 8000 in a transparent PP product. The independent organization UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories), has documented that use of Millad NX 8000 clarifier can result in energy savings of between 8-12% in injection molded, transparent PP products.

“The association is dedicated to helping the entire plastic housewares industry in China become more efficient and eco-friendlier, and thus the UL label means a lot in terms of demonstrating a commitment to energy saving,” said Milliken’s China business leader Kurt Xu, China.  Even though this effort is its early stages, five of the association’s leading member companies have agreed to get the UL label authorization for those plastic parts they produce using Millad NX 8000 as clarifier

Added Milliken’s Asia marketing leader Vincent Wang, “So far, a dozen or so upstream makers of clarified PP resin have adopted the UL label, and a few leading houseware brands in China, Taiwan and Thailand—including Picnic Plast Industrial Co. Ltd. in Thailand and Citylong Group in China—have been authorized to use it. We are seeing more and more international brands showing interests, as well.”

Milliken first earned UL validation for the energy-saving benefits of Millad NX 8000 in 2013. Downstream molders and brand owners now clearly are beginning to embrace the value of the concept.

Millad NX 8000 has been proven to deliver positive environmental- and performance-related benefits to PP. Its step-change to the performance and haze of PP supports the development of high-clarity, high-quality plastic houseware products. Importantly, use of the additive also allows conversion temperatures to be lowered in injection molding. This reduces processors’ energy use and any accompanying CO emissions. Numerous industrial trials indicate that use of Millad NX 8000 can lower required processing temperatures from 235°C to 190°C (455° F to 374° F), resulting in the above-noted energy savings of between 8 and 12%, while also lowering associated CO₂ emissions.

Upon first receiving the certification, Milliken had noted that the UL Environmental Claim Validation provides the assurance of independent confirmation of environmental credentials by a third party in markets deluged by unsubstantiated eco-claims. Milliken stresses it is committed to developing innovations that support more sustainable processing and a reduction in environmental impact for the plastics industry. Having UL Environment verify the positive energy savings of Millad NX 8000 was a major step in that direction.

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‘Sustainability’ in the design of new packaging for a broad range of products, and most prominently in the single-use food and beverage arena, is now a dominant goal. In a recent blog, I reported on the  “Big Ideas” podcast series, hosted by David Clark, v.p. of sustainability at global packaging giant Amcor Ltd., featuring interviews with thought leaders from global consumer-goods companies, sustainability organizations and Amcor itself. The series’ focus: how collaborative innovation is making consumer packaging and the products inside them better for the environment.

We recently heard from cannabis packaging manufacturer STO Responsible, Boulder, Colo. Its founders centered their business around one paramount goal: fixing the cannabis industry’s single-use plastic problem by developing safe, affordable packaging solutions that won’t harm the environment.

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Britain train leasing company Angel Trains has collaborated with engineering consultancy ESG Rail, and 3D printing technology provider Stratasys, to produce four fully approved interior components using 3D printing for the rail industry. The components approved for service include an arm rest, grab handle and seat back table.

All parts have been designed for additive manufacturing using Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology. In addition, the components have been structurally assessed by ESG Rail for manufacturing using Stratasys 3D printed tooling and the company’s rail-certified thermoplastic materials. The components will soon commence in-service passenger trials, which are expected to last until the summer of 2019 in the UK.

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Prices of nearly all volume resins were at least flat if not down—with PP followed by PE showing the most dramatic decline going into the new year. Even the exception in the group, nylon 66, which saw prices spiking throughout this year, was stabilizing. A drop in raw materials—starting with crude oil prices as well as all key feedstocks—is a shared contributing factor. Too, there is a general seasonal slowdown in demand, and in some cases, a buildup in supplier inventories and competition from lower-cost imports.

Here is a look at how things are shaping up, according to purchasing consultants from Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), Fort Worth, Texas; senior editors from Houston-based PetroChemWire (PCW); and CEO Michael Greenberg of the Plastics Exchange in Chicago.

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For the last seven years Integrity Tool and Mold’s Wayne McLaughlin has been back and forth from Canada to Querétaro, Mexico in support of his company’s operation there, moving to the country full time for the last two years as it established a new 118,000-ft2 molding and mold making operation for which he serves as plant manager.

McLaughlin likes the city, and Mexican culture, but he knew the growing number of non-Mexican’s he saw around town weren’t evidence of Querétaro’s sudden rise as a vacation destination. Instead, the growing volume of people from Germany, Japan, Canada and the U.S. was proof of the city’s emergence as a plastics and manufacturing hub, according to McLaughlin. “They’re definitely not here for tourism,” McLaughlin says.

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