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Alpla wins two international awards for sustainable foaming technology

Karen Laird

March 17, 2016

2 Min Read
Alpla wins two international awards for sustainable foaming technology

Alpla, a leading packaging molder based in Hard, Austria, has received two awards for its innovative foaming technology in extrusion blow molding (EBM). The technology, which reduces the amount of resin needed to produce EBM plastic bottles, is the result of around four years of research and cooperation between Alpla, Unilever and MuCell. It is not the first recognition Alplahas received for this development: In November 2014, the company won the special prize from ARA (Altstoff Recycling Austria AG) as part of the Austrian ‘Smart Packaging’ state prize.

And now, Alpla, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, has become the recipient of two international awards for its foaming technology: the PackTheFuture 2015 award in the Ecodesign category and the prestigious WorldStar award from the World Packaging Organization in the Health & Beauty category.

“These industry awards highlight the potential of foaming for more sustainable packaging solutions,” noted Alpla CEO Günther Lehner.

The use of microcellular foaming technology in the production of EBM plastic bottles offers a solution for the production of more sustainable EBM bottles. The technology involves injecting a gas into the middle layer of the bottle wall. This creates bubbles in the material, similar to the structure of a honeycomb, and as a result, plastic consumption and weight are reduced by up to 15%.

The process is a purely physical one and does not require any chemical additives. The bottles are therefore fully recyclable. End users won’t notice any difference: the bottles look and function exactly the same as conventional ones.

“The thickness of the material is reduced, but the thickness of the wall remains the same. The bottles therefore have practically the same high level of functionality in the bottling plants and during transportation and handling as conventional EBM bottles,” René Plattner, head of packaging management at Alpla, explained.

Alpla has been producing shower gel bottles in Lübeck for the European market for Unilever using this procedure since 2014. According to its own figures, Unilever will save up to 275 metric tons of plastic per year across Europe for this product line. The technology will be installed in other Alpla sites soon for customers in the body care and household products industries.

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