Renol and Renafin are joining merlot and riesling in the world of wine.
Materials maker Avient Corp. on June 10 launched a special-effect masterbatch package that makes natural-looking wine corks from the firm's Renol and Remafin thermoplastic elastomers. The new materials were developed by Avient's ColorWorks lab in Merate, Italy.
Prototype corks using this formulation in combination with TPE from Italian compounder Marfran srl were trialed at a manufacturer to prove the concept of a more natural-looking wine cork, officials with Avon Lake, Ohio-based Avient said in a news release.
Climate change and related drought events are reportedly hindering the growth of cork trees, and supplies are limited, according to polymer scientist Daniele Conti. Natural cork can allow oxygen to enter the bottle, occasionally spoiling the wine, he added.
TPE corks don't have these problems, but they don't give wine enthusiasts the same aesthetic experience as the natural product, Conti said. With the new materials, Avient has been able to develop a special-effect masterbatch that makes a natural-looking TPE cork.
The new masterbatch package produces a special effect that makes every TPE cork look different, with a unique light brown swirl pattern and random black specks. This special effect "convincingly mimics the look of natural cork," officials said.
The new formulations comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Union food-contact standards. The corks can be made using existing injection molding technology and are price-competitive with their natural counterparts, officials said.
The new materials "allow us to deliver good moldability and resistance to sterilization," Marfran President Francesco Francheschetti said. "The first trials by some of the main participants in the wine cork market have been very positive."
Avient is one of the world's largest concentrate makers and one of North America's largest compounders and resin distributors. The firm employs more than 9,000 worldwide and posted sales of $3.2 billion in 2020.