Pliant Corp. and other plastics packaging makers have learned to do more with less and that's a good thing for consumers.
``The value to users is mostly in cost reduction,'' Pliant technical director John Cook said at Flexpo 2008 in Galveston, Texas. ``But it's also a means for a higher standard of living and more convenience in our everyday lives.''
``Our industry has made packaging more affordable and thinner, and is using less oil,'' he added. ``We've also created productivity-rate gains, not just raw material cost savings. Films now run at speeds only dreamed of in the 1970s.''
Schaumburg, Ill.-based Pliant ranks as one of North America's largest makers of polyethylene shrink and stretch films. The firm has a leading presence in a number of markets, including medical, bakery and frozen foods.
Cook, who's based at Pliant's research center in Uniontown, Ohio, said the firm has seen success with a pair of product lines launched in 2007.
Stratos-brand stretch film allows for 35-45 percent less material usage, Cook said. The film combines a linear low density PE core with specialty PE and polypropylene. Stratos outperforms Pliant's Revolution-brand film that was introduced in 2003. Stratos offers cling, gloss, clarity and puncture resistance, and can cover 180 pallet loads, while a similar amount of competing film would cover only 115.
Stratos provides performance similar to thicker films, Cook said. The hand film version of the product can provide material savings of up to 55 percent.
Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble Co. was able to cut its film use by 33 percent when it switched to Pliant's Revolution film four years ago. Switching to Stratos will allow P&G to reduce that amount by another 25 percent, Cook said.
Coor's Brewing Co. also reported an unexpected side benefit of using Stratos.
``Their forklift operators were happier because they didn't have to get off the forklift four or five times each shift to restart a line because of a film break,'' Cook explained.
The other year-old Pliant product that's off to a good start is Steamquick-brand cooking film. The film is designed for microwave use and is made of PET and PP layers joined with an adhesive. Steamquick was developed by working with several food companies and has been commercialized for 10-ounce and 16-ounce packages. Pliant touts the film's cold-temperature durability, and it is Food and Drug Administration-compliant for vegetables and protein blends.
Pliant employs 2,900 worldwide and has annual sales of more than $1 billion. It ranked as North America's eighth-largest film and sheet maker in a recent Plastics News industry ranking.