ASC Packaging Blog – Summary of Recent Important Packaging Updates

Posted on 3/20/2013 2:40:08 PM By Jeff Timm

Much has recently occurred in the packaging market that updates and adds more information to some of my previous ASC Packaging Blogs on a variety of topics.  So let’s see what’s been happening.  

(1) Adhesives & Biobased Technologies posted on January 24, 2013 on the announced partnership between Henkel and DaniMer Scientific to develop a global family of biobased hot melt adhesives for consumer packaging (folding carton, corrugated and PSA label) with a new formulation technology announced to build on the family of biobased material choices available to the hot melt formulator.

Two patents were recently issued to Henkel AG & Co.  One for a low cost natural wax substitute for petroleum based paraffin wax that can be used with low application temperature adhesives that do not sacrifice heat resistance.  The second patent issued is for a hot melt formulation using biobased soy wax with a melting point from 130° F to 190° F.  In the first example it was discovered that fatty acids, particularly saturated fatty acids, can be used as the wax component in formulating hot melt adhesives, and particularly low application temperature hot melt adhesives.  When properly formulated with adhesive polymers and tackifiers, saturated fatty acids such as, e.g., stearic acid, adhesives have low viscosity, long open time, and high heat resistance.

If breakthroughs like these two prove successful perhaps they can be formulated with the already present array of biobased tackifiers like, but not limited to, natural resins including rosin, rosin esters, and polyterpenes and biopolymers developed by DaniMer to create a truly 100% biobased formulated hot melt adhesive.

(2) New Plastic Packaging Recycling Activity posted February 19, 2013 discussed new plastics recycling activity and zero waste initiatives.  Coke and Pepsi were mentioned because of their collective decision to move to biobased PET drop-in bottle technology.  This bottle development can be recycled with existing petrochemical based PET versus developing biodegradable/compostable bottle options for their brands.  Implied in the blog and in other past blogs was the desire of both Coke and Pepsi to control their whole value chain and work with a select list of supplier partners to reach critical mass in the market quickly.  

Recently Pepsi announced that they plan to manufacture their own bioplastic bottles in Latham, NY.   They are investing $10 million to replace merchant-supplied bottles with plastic bottle blow molded on site.  Interestingly this NY facility was previously owned by one of Pepsi’s independent bottlers until 2010 when Pepsi acquired the facility and formed Pepsi Beverages Co.  Another clear indication of making moves to control their value chain.

In a similar strategic move Coke in Europe is establishing a joint venture in France that will boost capacity at an existing recycling plant by 20,000 metric tons annually.  The venture is APPE, the packaging division of La Seda de Barcelona, which has a recycling plant in Beaune, France. The deal will enable Coke to expand the plant’s plastics reprocessing facility by 70%.   Coke is making frequent similar consolidation moves to create other opportunities for recycler ownership/JVs. The company is also funding a research partnership to explore how strategies to change consumer behavior can improve at-home recycling rates in Great Britain and France.

This all points to a huge disruption in the way PET will be manufactured, distributed, processed and recycled in the next ten years.  Traditional suppliers at every level of the value chain will change.  Current vendor-seller relationships will be eliminated and new ones created.  This opens up opportunities for those who stick close to these developments and can offer value propositions that fit into the brand strategies.  Can this be another epic shift in the power which once rested with the supplier, moved to the retailer (ex. Wal-Mart) and now maybe back to the brand?  I believe there is no mistaking the brands are now controlling the power.

(3) Compostability as a Packaging End-of-Life Option posted on October 10, 2012 discussed compostability benefits and issues.  There are a number of ASTM standards dealing with compostability that were discussed in the blog. 

ASTM recently developed a new international standard, ASTMD7473, Test Method for Weight Attrition of Plastic Materials in the Marine Environment by Open Systems Aquarium Incubations.  The new standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee D20.96 on Environmentally Degradable Plastics and Biobased Products, which is part of ASTM International Committee D20 on Plastics.

ASTM D7473 is designed to be performed after the test described in another D20.96 standard, ASTM D6691, Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials in the Marine Environment by a Defined Microbial Consortium or Natural Sea Water Inoculum.  In D7473, the sample item is tested “as is” according to ASTM versus a ground milled sample in other testing procedures.

The scope for the standard from the ASTM website states:

“This test method is used to determine the weight loss as a function of time of non-floating plastic materials (including formulation additives), when incubated under changing, open, marine aquarium conditions, which is representative of aquatic environments near the coasts and near the bottom of a body of water in the absence of sunlight, particularly UV and visible portions of the spectrum.  The goal of this test is to obtain data that will predict real world experiences based on the extent and rate of biodegradation data of the same materials obtained from the laboratory Test Method D6691.  The aquarium incubated films are examined for visual degradation and dry weight loss over time.  This test is not a replacement to Test Method D6691, but rather an additional ASTM method for weight attrition. The standard addresses weight loss of the plastics in a marine environment and cannot be used for demonstrating biodegradation for which Specification D7081 needs to be used.

Primary users of ASTM D7473 will be companies that manufacture and use biodegradable polymers or items that will be disposed at sea.

The addition of this and other global standards (ex. ISO, FTC-Green Guides, etc.) add to the growing set of tools available to the packaging engineer/designer to more clearly set marketing messages, sustainability goals and packaging material selection that is more informed and on target.

All three of these recent packaging updates point to growing trends that will affect package design, material selection, and vendor-seller relationships for years to come.

Related Links:

ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) 

ASTM D7473

comments powered by Disqus