CHICAGO - BP Chemicals Inc. continues to focus development of end uses for its Barex-brand resin in the Pacific Rim, including in high-barrier metalized film for packaging and a new injection molding application. Joe McCaul, Barex export manager, said a family of metalized films using the rubber-modified acrylonitrile methylacrylate resin has been used successfully in a number of consumer applications in Indonesia, including as an affordable replacement for foil in snack food packaging.
McCaul spoke at the Flex-Pak Worldwide Flexible Packaging Conference, held March 28-29 in Chicago.
Although the resin has been available for years, the company is eyeing possible uses for the films in the United States and other major packaging markets, primarily as a replacement for foil. The metalized variety is not producted in North America, but McCaul said customers interested in it could place truckload-sized orders and that the film would be converted in Indonesia and shipped back to the United States.
``We have found that the metalized film acts very much like foil with its excellent gas barrier and chemical resistance,'' McCaul told the attendees. ``It has dead-fold capability and good printability as well.''
McCaul said the company has been working with PT Argha Karya Prima Industries of Jakarta, Indonesia, one of the largest film producers and flexible packaging makers in Southeast Asia. The company has marketed several snack foods in metalized Barex film, which had extended shelf life of as long as nine months.
The Barex was laminated with biaxially oriented polypropylene and PET film.
Because the buying power of the average Indonesian is limited by Western standards, the films have had to provide the needed packaging qualities at lower cost than traditional material. McCaul noted one manufacturer who marketed snack cookies in Barex metalized film for the equivalent of 13 cents per package in U.S. currency.
``What has happened, though, is that the products sell so quickly that the manufacturer has found that the longer shelf life is not required,'' McCaul said. ``So we have gone to a de-metalized white film with printed graphics.''
McCaul said another development has been the use of injection molded Barex for the first time for a food product.
The company worked with Samsung Cheil Foods Ltd., and injection molder Donjin Ltd. of Seoul, South Korea, to develop clear Barex tubs to house strongly flavored chili-bean paste and soup bases.
``The products are difficult and time-consuming to prepare, and have very strong flavors, and are very sensitive to oxygen penetration,'' McCaul said.
Testing also is under way on using the film in stand-up pouches for an extremely high-pH pine cleanser never before marketed in a flexible package.
McCaul said the containers' properties make them effective for strongly flavored foods, and the film's properties as a foil replacement give it potential in the United States.
``The applicability for these structures is now clearly broader than the ... Third World market originally envisioned,'' McCaul said.
``A primary driving force in markets such as the U.S., Western Europe and Japan is now the environment. The new legal and competitive arenas are directing companies into source-reduced, recyclable packaging. Many companies are finding that foil no longer meets their needs.''
However, there is no plan to roll out the Barex metalized films in the United States. For now, the resin will continue to be produced in Lima, Ohio, and shipped to Indonesia for conversion, McCaul said.
``It is ironic that the resin is produced here, sent to the Far East to be converted, and then sent back, in some cases in a finished product,'' McCaul said.