Placard, bio-based plasticizer

image_thumbGood results were reported during a meeting of the Placard project held at EuPC premises on 8 and 9 July. The project is aiming at producing a new bio-based plasticizer for soft PVC with a focus on applications in construction. It is produced by chemical modification of cardanol, an industrial grade yellow oil obtained by vacuum distillation of cashew nut shell liquid. By using a by-product such as cashew nut shells, the Placard plasticizer does not create pressure on food resources.

Production of the Placard plasticizer on a pilot scale was carried out at Serichim premises whilst tests were conducted by Università di Salento that compared properties from different high/low molecular weight phthalates and non-phthalates plasticizers. Placard results showed better plasticizing efficiency than DEHP and DOTP enabling raw material saving. Processability and an energy cost reduction were other parameters that demonstrated better performance compared to selected commercial plasticisers. Remaining tested parameters were comparable with other selected plasticisers and showed good stability of properties over time.
Additional results, such as ability to facilitate recycling, will be further investigated and quantified. They will be presented in internal meetings and at targeted conferences by EuPC that is in charge of the dissemination activities as well as by Kommi, the project leader. For more information, click the logo above.

Insecticide substances in foamed plastics

imageThe Plastics Technology Centre AIMPLAS, Inesfly Corporation from Valencia and the University of Zaragoza are researching in order to be able to encapsulate insecticide substances in foamed plastic materials. The innovative material will allow the manufacture of soles of sandals and mats that repel insects that transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.

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airpop – a new name for EPS

Expanded Polystyrene has had many names in Europe: Styropor, PSE, Piepschuim or Polyfoam – to name just a few. We have now put an end to this variety. EUMEPS Construction proudly introduces a common European name for EPS: airpop® engineered air.
Why give a new name to an internationally established material like EPS? Simply because the name airpop immediately brings to mind what the material is made of: air. A lot of air. 98 % air, to be precise. Just a tiny fraction is made of synthetic material, which expands to 50 times its own volume. airpop® easily provides sustainable and affordable construction and insulation by keeping material costs, weight, CO2 emissions and heating costs low.

The airpop®-campaign is a joint industry initiative of EUMEPS, of European airpop®-converters, of their respective National EPS Associations and of European EPS raw material producers. The creative concept was developed by the communication agency Ogilvy & Mather, Frankfurt / Germany.
airpop® represents an industry of approx. 600 mainly small and medium sized converters in Europe. They process about 1.300.000 tons of raw material into airpop® products. The main applications are building and construction as well as packaging parts.

imageThe airpop®-campaign is a joint industry initiative of EUMEPS, of European airpop®-converters, of their respective National EPS Associations and of European EPS raw material producers. The creative concept was developed by the communication agency Ogilvy & Mather, Frankfurt / Germany.
airpop® represents an industry of approx. 600 mainly small and medium sized converters in Europe. They process about 1.300.000 tons of raw material into airpop® products. The main applications are building and construction as well as packaging parts. For more information about airpop®, click the logo.

Trends in agricultural films market

The European market for agricultural film has been experiencing steady growth over the past decade exceeding half a million tonnes in 2013, according to the report Agricultural Film Market in Europe 2014 [click for more information], recently published by AMI Consulting. Spain and Italy are the largest markets overall, accounting for almost 40% of demand primarily driven by their intensive horticultural activity where large quantities of greenhouse and mulch films are used. In contrast, Northern Europe with vast areas of grass land is a major producer of animal fodder and has significant consumption of silage films both silage sheet and stretch wrap.image

Silage film which is forecast to grow by just over 1% a year over the next five year period is going to be driven primarily by booming biomass production, demand for increasing quality of fodder and reduction of spoilage, increased number of dairy cows, increasing nutritional intake per cow, silage being increasingly fed to horses and haylage being also increasingly baled and wrapped.
Consumption of conventional mulch film in tonnage terms is forecast to decline slightly over the next five years as a result of the relative maturity of the market, shrinking of the area for crop cultivation and the need for the reduction of post-use plastic waste (by downgauging or by using biodegradable films instead).
Market trends for greenhouse film demand are very similar to mulch films as both types of films are increasingly used in combination. The European market is a mature one and with one season films being gradually replaced by films lasting up to 5 years, in tonnage terms the market has seen a decline and the process is expected to continue for the next five years.
The market is increasingly driven by value rather than volume. In order to increase market share in an oversupplied market, film companies will strive to develop innovative customised high performance thinner multilayer films and as well as look at opportunities for further consolidation. Some of the most recent major takeovers include RKW acquiring Hyplast and Biofol Film, ITW Mima’s industrial films business being acquired by the US-based Carlyle Group, Morera & Vallejo acquiring the bankrupt TPM group in Spain and Unterland being acquired by the Britton Group now rebranded as Coveris.  

The relevance of agricultural film

In order to feed a global population which is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050, food waste needs to be eliminated, distribution of food improved and food production increased. At the same time agriculture faces challenges due to changing economic and environmental trends including climate change, biofuel expansion, slowing agricultural yields, rising meat demand and ever increasing calorie intake from a growing global middle class. It is estimated that by 2050 about 70% of the global population will be urban, compared to 50% today.
Although the population increase in Europe is going to be only marginal, European agriculture will continue to play its part in global food production, while simultaneously fighting for its existence in the face of competing pressures for land use. The agricultural sector is forced to produce more food of increasing quality on less land within a shorter space of time using less resources, while generating minimum waste.  Extending the growing season and increasing yields per hectare of land have been and will remain the main drivers for the use of agricultural films.  In addition, plastic films protect the crops, which has direct implications on the crop’s quality.  Films can also improve a farm’s efficiency by reducing the amount of chemicals, water and energy used.

In addition to its consultancy work in agricultural films, AMI also organises the annual global conference for the agricultural film industry. The next Agricultural Film Conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain on 15-17 September 2014. For more information on this conference, contact Jenny Skinner (click to email).

Global PE demand to rise 3,7% p.a.

imageGlobal polyethylene demand is forecast to rise by approximately 3.7% per annum between 2013 and 2018, at a slightly higher level than its growth during the 2003 to 2013 period, says a new report from research and consulting firm GlobalData. The report Global Polyethylene Industry – Emerging Markets in Asia-Pacific to Drive Modest Growth states that this higher-than-historic increase will occur in the US and Europe, primarily in Russia. The US will witness a 2.4% growth rate per annum during the forecast period, in comparison to its 0.7% levels from 2003 to 2013. Meanwhile, demand in Europe, including Russia, will climb at 2.8% per year from 2013 to 2018, almost three times the level witnessed during the last decade.
GlobalData states that these demand rises in the US and Russia will be somewhat offset by a lower increase of 4.8% in Asia, compared to its 6% rate during 2003 and 2013. This will be due primarily to the region’s slower economic growth.  

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RecyClass™ – a classification system for recyclability

Today plastic packaging design threatens new EU recycling targets, says the association Plastics Recyclers Europe. Plastic packaging recycling does not begin with collection but design. Packaging design today is focused mainly on maximizing performance. Careless design often leads to incomplete emptying of a package and what about different combinations of polymers/materials which are incompatible for an efficient recycling process?
The new challenge should be that recyclability becomes a requirement fully equal to the other performance criteria. This will help to divert substantial quantities of plastics away from landfill and incineration into recycling hence moving them to a higher category according to the EU waste hierarchy.

Plastics Recyclers Europe believe that the introduction of an EU classification system will assist designers in evaluating their creations from a recyclability point of view, in the addition it will help them in choosing the best options to improve their class.

RecyClass™ as a common market approach will build on existing Design for Recycling Guidelines. It will offer an easy method to determine the recyclability class of any plastic package, based on a scale from A to G (seven classes comparable to EU energy efficiency classes).

“Many months ago we started working on this project. At this stage a first draft of our model is being tested in several technical institutes in different European Countries.” says Paolo Glerean who heads PRE’s packaging design task force. “Our goal is to present the
Recy Class™ tool during a special event at Interpack in Duesseldorf in May 2014”.

Detailed information on PO for food contact

imageSABIC, one of the biggest polyolefins (polyethylenes and polypropylenes) producer, has now all of its food safety and compliance declarations available on line, three years ahead of the required 2016 deadline. The declarations are available on the European pages of the company.

The new regulations involve more stringent testing on the ways migration from packaging into food is tested. As these new regulations come into force over the next three years, plastics processors and packaging companies will need to seek further assurances on compliance from their materials suppliers.

EU Plastics Regulation (EU) 10/2011 (PIM) came into force on May 1, 2011, and introduces several changes to regulations embodied in Council Directive 82/711/EC, particularly with reference to testing conditions for migration of individual chemicals and in what can be used in the tests to simulate actual foods. There are changes to the duration of some tests, to the temperatures at which some tests are carried out, and to the simulants for aqueous and alcoholic products inside the packaging. However, the new regulation will not become compulsory until January 1, 2016.

For PE and PP, SABIC already has assessed all substances regulated with a Specific Migration Limit (SML) under the new conditions (10 days at 60ºC). Its tests showed that none of its PE or PP materials will be subject to additional restrictions for use in food contact applications.

Food contact legislation in Europe is based on the principle that all substances are forbidden unless they are explicitly allowed. As far as migration from the package to the contents is concerned, there are strict limits on specific migration (SML, relating to individual chemicals) and overall migration (OML, the sum of all specific migrations).

While there is no formal obligation for them to execute migration tests, all manufacturers of plastics raw materials have to provide a Document of Conformity (DoC) to their direct customer, providing confirmation that the material meets the relevant legal requirements. Additionally, they have to disclose the identity of monomers and additives, regulated with an SML and/or QM restriction, as well as the identity of “dual-use” additives, and they have to provide information on restrictions of use if relevant.

For any questions regarding SABIC product safety information, click HERE.

In January 2013, SABIC held a customer e-seminar on the new testing requirements for food packaging under the EU food contact regulation. To view or get a copy of the presentation, click HERE.