Pliant Corp. is using its expertise in polymer blending and multilayer structures to launch a new line of produce films in early 2007.
The Breathe-Fresh product line can take a couple of different forms, technical director Doug Lilac said at Flexpo 2006, held Sept. 20-22 in Galveston.
The first film is a coextrusion of K-Resin styrenic block copolymer or polypropylene with low density polyethylene, ethylene vinyl acetate or ultralow density PE. The second is reverse-printed oriented PP with EVA, LDPE, ULDPE or linear LDPE.
``The market wants a clear, nonporous film for institutional products, and the customer wants a film that crinkles so that they think [the produce] is fresh,'' Lilac said. ``Suppliers also want to extend the shelf life of produce because it takes longer to transport lettuce, broccoli and other products.''
Schaumburg, Ill.-based Pliant also is working to use antioxidant or antimicrobial additives in a controlled-release pattern for films used as internal layers on bags for cereal or produce. Lilac said Pliant's work was well under way before the recent health scare involving fresh spinach, but he confirmed that spinach would be a typical product for the new films.
The new films are being sampled by several customers; however, no definite commercial date has been set, said Lilac, who works at Pliant's research and development center in Newport News, Va.
Outside of produce, Lilac said Pliant is trying to broaden its product mix beyond olefinic blends. The Department of Defense is interested in some of Pliant's food-grade films for Meals Ready to Eat, or MRE products, given to soldiers serving in the field.
Pliant exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. The firm had filed Chapter 11 in January because of debt issues and price increases for resin, freight and energy.
Pliant was eighth in a recent Plastics News ranking of North American film and sheet manufacturers with related sales of about $1 billion.