Several resin firms introduced new products at Pack Expo 2006 in Chicago, focusing on the environmental angle as the $450 billion global packaging market increases its role in the sustainability movement.
Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn., introduced Parastar, which it is marketing as the next generation of PET. Jennifer Steward, North American PET business unit director, said the material offers enhanced bottle clarity and acetaldehyde levels that are cut by 25 percent.
Reducing acetaldehyde levels means bottled water will maintain a more neutral taste for a longer period of time. That is achieved without additives.
The company's first commercial Parastar product line is in Columbia, S.C. The resins are manufactured with Eastman's IntegRex technology, which uses less energy because it eliminates the solid-stating step, the company said.
Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LLC of The Woodlands, Texas, introduced XK44, a new grade of its K-Resin styrene butadiene copolymer for rigid packaging. The company touts the material as an alternative to PET and PVC.
The copolymer has low-stress whitening in blends with other styrenics, and is easier to process than most rigid packaging resins, officials said. It requires no recrystallization and is nonhygroscopic, eliminating the need for drying. Processors can combine K-Resin regrind with virgin K-Resin.
Officials said that a multiple-pass regrind study demonstrated that the resin maintains its strength and clarity after seven reprocessing passes.
Two other grades, KR03BR and KR01BR, are options for injection molding applications. The first is for toys, medical devices, hangers and overcaps; the latter is for molded boxes with integral hinges, media packaging, displays and medical devices.
Each grade contains a vegetable-based mold release and offers visual clarity.
``We expect good successes as we take these materials to the marketplace,'' said Lee Carvell, application development specialist in Chevron Phillips' styrenic polymers group.
Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., demonstrated the impact of poor unit-load wrapping. The problem may cost manufacturers $388 million annually in product damage, according to a study conducted by Carolina Supply Chain Services and sponsored by Dow.
Alternative wrapping technologies like stretch hoods provide a means to cut those losses, Dow officials said.
According to Applied Market Information LLC of Wyomissing, Pa., global demand for unitization films is currently about 7.6 billion pounds annually, with about 74 percent used in stretch film, 23 percent in shrink film and 3 percent in stretch hoods.
By 2010, the total will grow to 10.2 billion pounds, according to AMI. The fastest-growing sector will be stretch hood film, which will grow 20 percent per year. Stretch films will grow 5-10 percent annually, depending on film type, and shrink films will stay flat.
The market will be influenced by decisions like Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s five-year plan to reduce packaging, with a goal of saving 733,700 tons of carbon dioxide, 323,800 tons of coal and 66.7 million gallons of diesel fuel.
``Our resins for stretch hood technology in particular offer significant benefits in terms of package integrity, weatherability, display properties and logistics management. We believe the CSCS study shows that there are real opportunities for manufacturers to reduce damage in the supply chain with stretch hoods,'' said Joe Laehu, market manager for industrial and consumer packaging at Dow.