DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Nov. 26, 11:50 a.m. EST) — Clariant Masterbatches went back to nature at K 2007 with a new lineup of environmentally friendly products.
Muttenz, Switzerland-based Clariant launched Renol-natur color masterbatches and Cesa-natur additive masterbatches for use with bioresins such as polylactic acid and polyhydroxyalkanoate. The Clariant materials are biodegradable and compostable.
In an interview at the show, Clariant Masterbatches division head Dominik Von Bertrab said the new products are aimed at the packaging and consumer goods markets.
“The trend very much is toward green products,” he said. “The colors used are based on plant extracts such as curry powder or chlorophyll and can be highly saturated.”
Clariant also is increasing its efforts in the post-consumer recycled resin market with three new colors and effects intended for use with post-consumer recycled polyolefins. The new offerings — under the Enigma-brand name — are Light on Water (a translucent blue with a large pearlescent fleck), Cayenne Fire (a warm red pearl) and Green Apple (a natural, vibrant green pearl).
All three products are intended for multilayer bottles made of high density polyethylene.
“If you want to increase the use of [post-consumer resin] in your package, all you really need to do is change your focus in making color decisions,” said Carolyn Sedgwick, North American packaging segment business manager. “These color systems can be used with any level of PCR up to 100 percent,” Sedgwick said in a news release.
In an interview at the show, she added that, going into 2009, preferred colors in North America are expected to be somber and more conservative, while in the rest of the world, colors should be vibrant and more playful.
Clariant officials at the show also focused on its 360° Service program for customers. The program includes technology, design and developmental aspects.
“We want to get more into the development cycle on a lot of projects,” Von Bertrab said. “In packaging, design is one of the requirements. Brand managers are specifying what they want and on the molding side, we can get converters involved.”
“Color selection can come in at any stage,” he added. “In many cases, it can come at the end. A customer might say they want more gloss, but they don't say it until the end of the process. We can even address using a different resin or using less material to make a part. A lot of customers want us to get involved sooner.”
Clariant's global approach to the color market continues to provide the company with opportunities and challenges.
“Regions interconnect differently,” Von Bertrab said. “The world is smaller, so there's more importance and more desire to protect your brand. Twenty years ago, global brands were very inconsistent, especially with color. Then these firms realized they weren't enhancing brand value and they wanted more consistency.”
For Clariant, 2007 got off to a strong start before inconsistency hit regional markets such as North America, where the impact of slowing markets in automotive and construction were felt. Annual growth for North America could be as high as 3 percent, while Clariant should see a 3-5 percent growth rate in Europe. Asia and Latin America are growing at double-digit rates.
Raw materials needed to make Clariant's products felt “dramatic increased pressure” in 2007, Von Bertrab said. This led the firm to increase pigment loads on some products in order to cut back on raw material price.
Clariant added about $65 million in annual sales when it bought the masterbatches business of Ciba Specialty Chemicals AG in late 2006. Moving ahead, Von Bertrab said Clariant expects to make “two or three relatively small acquisitions” per year.
“We'll make an acquisition if it makes sense for us to strengthen or acquire additional technology or to penetrate a market,” he explained. “But it's a question of availability and of doing it at a right price.”
In the first half of 2007, Clariant posted sales of 722 million Swiss francs (US$630 million), an increase of 12 percent over the same period in 2006. The increase was due in part to the Ciba acquisition, officials said.