BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics is introducing a handful of new products and initiatives in Argentina this year aimed at recycling and waste reduction, including a standup pouch for liquids made for the first time from 100 percent polyethylene, the company's regional sales director told Plastics News during Argenplás.
Dow's standup pouches have previously been made of multiple plastic components, and were therefore difficult to recycle. Its new all-polyethylene pouch has been available on the market for solids since May 2013, when Printpack Inc. launched it in Mexico with Tyson Foods. It's now being evaluated by clients in Argentina for liquids use, said Leonardo Feltrinelli, sales director for southern Latin America, in an interview at the Argenplás trade show in Buenos Aires.
“We see a bright future for PE in Argentina,” he said. “We have access to a cost-advantage feedstock in the shale gas being explored here, and everyone in the value chain is willing to innovate and pursue progressive ideas.”
Dow's plant in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, has maxed out its production capacity of 650,000 metric tons per year for low, high and linear low density PE. The company is Argentina's No. 1 PE supplier, with 75 percent of its resins sold domestically.
Dow sources 100 percent of its natural gas for local PE production within Argentina, but like many manufacturers in the country, it's limited during winter months by gas shortages. Dow tries to get around that by scheduling plant maintenance during the season, but the company is actively investing in improving the country's gas supply.
Dow signed a deal in September 2013 with YPF SA, Argentina's largest company, to invest $188 million to develop 16 shale gas wells at the country's Vaca Muerta formation. Dow will provide $120 million through this year as its portion of the agreement, which involves drilling wells in Neuquen province that have the potential to produce 3 million cubic meters of natural gas a day, according to YPF.
Following announcements in May and early June of licensing agreements for its PacXpert Packaging Technology to Ampac and O. Kleiner AG, Dow is in the process of importing machinery to Argentina to produce the bottles, and should begin local production this year, Feltrinelli said.
The PacXpert design involves an easy-to-carry flexible plastic pouch with a fitment closure and integrated handles. The pouch is shelf stable, standing upright or on its side once filled, with transparent packaging that allows consumers to see the content within.
Dow also recently launched a PE label program in Argentina that tells consumers the packaging is recyclable. PE films aren't labeled with the classic recycling triangle symbol, so Dow developed a new “thumbs up” symbol with a few keywords to show consumers that packaging film can be diverted from the waste stream, said Jeffrey Wooster, global sustainability director for Packaging and Specialty Plastics.
“This should help [garbage] pickers in Argentina's informal recycling network learn there is demand in the supply chain for recycling PE film,” Wooster said. “Dow is also working with local plastics chambers on educating consumers about the new symbol.”