Court rules resin not responsible for can corrosion

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 10, 2013 2:47 pm ET
Updated: April 10, 2013 2:51 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials Suppliers, Legal, Food packaging

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — An Australian court has ruled a resin supplier is not liable for damages after the ends of tuna cans, which were coated in an epoxy-phenolic resin, corroded.

Court proceedings began in May 2009, when Melbourne-based Visy Packaging Pty. Ltd. sued Melbourne-based ink manufacturer Siegwerk Australia Pty. Ltd, the then Australia and New Zealand business unit of Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA, headquartered in Siegburg, Germany.

Visy manufactures and supplies PET, cardboard and metal containers, and collects and processes recycled materials. Its products include metal cans with "easy open ends," which open via a ring-pull device attached to the end. Visy supplies the cans to tuna canners.

Siegwerk Australia supplied Visy with a lacquer to seal the inside of the can lids. A component of the lacquer was an epoxy-phenolic resin supplied by Sydney-based resin manufacturer Nuplex Industries (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.

Visy received reports July 2004 of some easy open ends corroding four to six weeks after the cans were filled with fish. Visy paid a tuna processor and a supermarket supplier more than A$7 million in losses.

Visy's court action claimed Siegwerk Australia's lacquer failed to properly seal the cans, causing the corrosion, and it sought reimbursement.

On Sept. 28, 2009, Siegwerk Australia filed a cross-claim against Nuplex, arguing the lacquer failed because Nuplex substituted Epikote 1009 epoxy resin for DER669E epoxy resin in manufacturing the final resin supplied to Siegwerk Australia.

Visy and Siegwerk Australia settled Aug. 17, 2010, eight months after they began court-ordered mediation, with Siegwerk Australia paying Visy A$2.25 million, including interest and costs.

Siegwerk Australia later went into liquidation, so its cross-claim against Nuplex was prosecuted by Sydney-based Zurich Australian Insurance Ltd., which had provided a A$750,000 security to enable the case to proceed.

Mediation failed, so the Federal Court in Melbourne had to decide whether Nuplex's resin caused the lacquer to fail. Siegwerk Australia had to prove a causal link between Nuplex's substitution and the corrosion.

Both parties relied on separate evidence from analytical chemists John Scheirs and Jim Haig. Scheirs argued Epikote 1009 had a lower molecular weight than DER669E, resulting in a less-flexible lacquer, which increased the likelihood of the coating being damaged as the lids were fixed to the filled cans. Consequently the contents penetrated the coating and corroded the metal.

Haig was critical of Scheirs's reasoning and suggested alternative reasons for the lacquer coating breaking down.

Justice Peter Gray said there was "no doubt" Scheirs' thesis was plausible, but Siegwerk Australia had insufficient evidence to prove its two key assumptions: that the two resins' molecular weight differed and a lower molecular weight resulted in a less-flexible coating.

"Without validation of these two assumptions, [Scheirs's theory] remains plausible, but amounts to nothing more," Gray ruled.

Gray dismissed the cross-claim and ordered Zurich to pay A$750,000 of Nuplex's costs.

Nuplex also cross-claimed against its own insurer, Sydney-based QBE Insurance (Aust.) Ltd., which had argued a liability policy issued to Nuplex did not respond. Gray agreed with Nuplex, saying "property damage unquestionably first occurred during the period of insurance," and ordered QBE to pay all remaining legal defense costs, apart from a A$500,000 deductible.


Comments

Court rules resin not responsible for can corrosion

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 10, 2013 2:47 pm ET
Updated: April 10, 2013 2:51 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

DSM planning North American nylon plant

July 22, 2014 11:41 am ET

Materials firm Royal DSM NV plans to build a new nylon resin plant in North America, but no decision has been made on the plant's exact location.    More

China launches investments in Belarus

July 21, 2014 10:10 am ET

China is preparing to invest in a major bottle grade PET production project planned by the Belarus PET and polyester fibers producer...    More

Image

Polynt, CCP create composite resins giant

July 18, 2014 10:13 am ET

France's Total SA has agreed to sell CCP Composites to Polynt Group SpA, based in Italy, for an undisclosed price.    More

Image

PET prices climb 2 cents

July 17, 2014 2:22 pm ET

After holding their ground in May, North American PET prices rebounded to show an average increase of 2 cents per pound in June.    More

Image

PolyOne closing 2 plants in Brazil

July 16, 2014 12:40 pm ET

Materials maker PolyOne Corp. is closing two of its four Brazilian plants in order to streamline operations and improve its financial performance in t...    More

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events