Impact Plastics launched its new shelf-stable food barrier brand ICPG to expand its production of a polypropylene replacement for polystyrene, which it says will lead to material simplification for its customers.
Jonathan Cage, director of business development for custom sheet extruder ICPG and Impact, said the new developments coming from the brand are "cutting edge" and the efforts to meet customer demand for more sustainable materials that don't sacrifice performance.
"We believe it's leading the industry with regard to tighter tolerances, more capabilities and reducing gauge," Cage told Plastics News. "[ICPG is] also coming up with alternate material solutions that we think the industry has really been desperately in need of, especially given a lot of sustainability commitments many large brand owners have made."
To meet requirements for performance and shelf life, Cage said, "you get into some pretty sophisticated structures … materials that could be nine-plus layers."
"We're trying to take out as many components from a multi-layer structure as we can but retain performance, and in other cases, actual material replacement," he said. "Keeping in mind, you've got to be able to maintain the cost parameters to provide that kind of solution."
Mike Moren, commercial director at ICPG, said the brand was launched "conceptually" about two years ago as Impact expanded with a "significant build-out" of FDA certified clean rooms and extruding equipment.
"We've engineered these materials, a portfolio on different options, to mimic PS and allow brand owners to develop packaging that has most of the attributes of polystyrene with additional benefits that can be used on existing form fill sealed platforms," Moren said. "From a sustainability standpoint, a high-performance but simplified structure will retain a lot more value to the recyclers and to reprocessors."
Because ICPG's PP replacement is processed similarly to polystyrene, he added, "millions of dollars of capital expenditures do not have to be replaced."
The replacement material, he said, also uses 20 percent less material in products and leaves "the consumer with something that's pretty high-value in terms of recyclability and sustainability."
"We'd been looking for some time for an area to expand our model," David Kingeter, president of Impact and ICPG, said. "The multilayer material for the barrier market seemed like a natural because there aren't a lot of participants. It's a high-skill and a very sophisticated process. The materials are very unique."
Kingeter said that, with so many customers declaring moves away from PS in the next five years, ICPG was a chance for Impact to come up with an option for "a more sustainable product" that meets regulations.
In some cases, Kingeter said, ICPG's new developments are monopolymer products that can now be labeled as a number 5 PP resin, which is easier to recycle.
"That's where the 'aha' moment comes in," Kingeter said. "This has never been done before, at least to our knowledge."