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
Companies & Associations

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

Dow Chemical to merge chlorine operations with Olin

March 27, 2015 12:43 pm ET

Dow Chemical Co. is combining a large part of its chlorine value chain with specialty chemicals and ammunition maker Olin Corp. to create a global...    More

Image

Eastman Chemical expanding Tritan co-polyester capacity

March 27, 2015 10:00 am ET

Eastman Chemical Co.'s Tritan-brand co-polyester business continues to grow, with 35 million pounds of capacity added late last year and a second...    More

Image

PolyOne's Patterson focused on keeping the momentum going

March 27, 2015 9:30 am ET

New PolyOne CEO Robert Patterson sees a lot of good things when he looks at his company, which ranks as North America's largest compounder and...    More

Image

Improvements to Radici's nylon line takes it into more applications

March 27, 2015 9:00 am ET

Radici Group, the Italian-headquartered materials firm, outlined the benefits of its Radilon and Radistrong nylon products at NPE 2015.    More

Sun Plastech, Plastics Color Corp. note major milestones at NPE

March 27, 2015 9:00 am ET

Sun Plastech Inc. and Plastics Color Corp. — two well-known materials firms — are marking anniversaries at NPE 2015.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events