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Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Plastics, Packaging and Recycling Symposium, held April 23-24 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Late plant opening puts Mabex in bind

It took several months longer than expected to start up the new Bardstown, Ky., plant of Mabex Universal Corp., and now the foam packaging processor is caught in a classic price squeeze.

Mabex faces increases in raw material costs of polyethylene, and expectations from television set makers and cabinet molders for lower prices.

Mabex experienced a six-month delay in getting its full product line for thicker foams running. He blamed the delay on an equipment supplier's error. The errant equipment was replaced in October, and the 64,000-square-foot facility reached full operation in November.

Initially ``we were able to make our thinner foams,'' Steven Wood, Mabex director of foam sales and marketing in El Segundo, Calif., said at the symposium. ``Now, we can make the thicker foams,'' to one-quarter inch.

Mabex makes PE foam sheet, laminated foam and sheet and high density PE film. Mabex, a unit of Mabuchi Corp. Ltd. in Yokohama, Japan, has other film and foam manufacturing and converting facilities in Tijuana, Mexico, and Singapore.

Delkor anticipates market share growth

Delkor Systems Inc.' s Spot-Pak packaging system reached 30 percent penetration of the cultured foods market in 1996 and should reach 40 percent this year, said Donald Lasecke, general manager.

On the market since 1990, the Spot-Pak system permits an 80 percent reduction in packaging material, compared with corrugated box.

Lasecke said the firm had 1996 sales of $4.9 million. He forecasts $5.5 million for 1997.

A Spot-Pak system places round containers of polyethylene, high density PE or polystyrene on corrugated trays with a touch of glue and uses shrink film to wrap a quantity equivalent to a box load.

Users include dairies, and preparers that ship salads and coleslaw.

Delkor buys the glue system from Illinois Tool Works' Dynatec Division. Armin Plastics of Jersey City, N.J., supplies the low density PE film.

Delkor Systems employs 10 and manufactures the collating and loading parts in a facility near Minneapolis.

Canadian innovator Mike Whiteside developed and patented the technology, which he sold to Delkor in 1990.