In Spain, AIMPLAS, the Valencia-based Technological Institute of Plastic, is collaborating with AINIA Technological Centre on an R&D project that aims to develop the first prototypes of cosmetics packaging with enhanced properties using nanomaterials.
The project, known as NANOPACK, will run for 24 months and is being funded by the Valencia Institute of Business Competitiveness, IVACE. The goal is to develop safer, more sustainable and more competitive cosmetics packaging.
Cosmetics are typically products that are prone to spoilage as they frequently come into contact with oxygen, skin bacteria, body fluids and other external influences. However, even prior to being opened, sophisticated, well-designed packaging is required to ensure that contents remain in good condition until they reach the customer.
Today, the packaging material of choice in the cosmetics industry is plastic, because of the multiple advantages this offers: design, lightness, strength and durability. The NANOPACK project aims to engineer materials using nanotechnology that will further leverage the inherent characteristics and benefits of plastic packaging materials.
Initial studies carried out by the two research partners show that adding nanoparticles - nanoclay - to the plastic packaging material does, in fact, enhance the performance of the plastic material, producing containers that provide extended shelf life, are more sustainable and are cost competitive.
Considerably improved gas barrier properties were reported, in addition to better mechanical and thermal properties. Moreover, as a result of the high efficiency of this improved new material, additives and charges were no longer required. Ultimately, additional cost advantages might also be realized by reducing the number of layers and quantity of raw materials required for the manufacture of cosmetics packaging.
The NANOPACK project will also study the use of nanoparticles with biopolymers (bioplastics) derived from renewable sources, in order to explore the potential of these new materials for cosmetics packaging production.
The project will be concluded in December 2015. The results are expected also to be applicable to other sectors in which the demands placed on packaging are stringent, such as the industrial oils packaging sector.