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Articles from 2012 In July

Group works to find end-of-life solutions for plastic food service packaging

The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) recently announced the formation of the Plastics Recovery Group (PRG) to create and develop potential solutions for the recovery and processing of used foodservice packaging.

The group behind PRG realizes they have a difficult journey ahead.

"We are out to make a difference and our long-term goal is landfill diversion," FPI Vice President Natha Dempsey told PlasticsToday. "We are making progress and moving the needle in the right direction with realistic actions."

Today, many foodservice packaging items are typically not being recovered after use because of limited infrastructure and end markets.

Most foodservice packaging can be recycled, but isn't for a variety of reasons. The biggest barriers to recycling foodservice packaging items are public health and economics, the FPI stated.

For example, about 70% of food sold in foodservice packaging in a typical quick service restaurant goes out the drive through window, or out the front door, according to the FPI. Once the packaging leaves the foodservice operation it becomes widely dispersed and discarded.

No single company has enough influence to affect broad change alone, the FPI stated.

After several months of preliminary discussions, a conference call in May marked the official kick off for the PRG. Part of the work includes learning sessions to evaluate opportunities and barriers along the material movement chain. First sessions will explore recycling, waste to energy, plastics to oil, and composting. In addition, the group will assess key generation, current recovery, and recovery infrastructure points.

There's a lot of work to be done and FPI has engaged the help of StewardEdge USA (SE) and Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) on this journey.

"Our members decided this is an area in food service we can do something about," said Lynn Dyer, president of the FPI. "We started working and collaborating to figure out where to fill in the holes for food service packaging."

The PRG is a separate member-funded project within FPI. Current PRG members include BASF, D&W Fine Pack, and HAVI Global Solutions. Additional members are sought from various parts of the value chain including raw material suppliers, converters, retailers, operators, waste haulers, recyclers, composters, waste-to-energy facilities, and more.

The PRG is encouraging partnerships with cross-industry allies to leverage efforts.

"Sometimes there is a competitive nature among packaging recovery projects, but this is completely void of that," Dyer said. "We are dedicated to creating strategic alliances. Various plastics industry members working together can only help consumers."

Green Matter London 2012: Olympic effort to ‘paint the town green’

Winning the bid for the 2012 Olympics was just the start. In 2007, Tony Blair, then prime minister of the UK declared that the London 2012 Games could become a "cutting edge example of sustainability". A recently published report compiled by BioRegional and WWF-UK concluded that, in fact, the city has actually done quite well: "London 2012 is the Olympics that sets a new sustainability standard for future Games".

Obviously, there were also a few disappointments, including the "failure to meet the renewable energy targets set out in the bid", but in general, the reviews have been cautiously optimistic. The report lauded, for example "the use of carbon footprinting and carbon management across decision making", which it called "a decisive step with the potential to become a standard for all major projects." Also, the use of temporary structures, lightweight venues, sustainable materials and 'legacy-proof' design was favorably hailed, as was the fact that, for the first time "food had been included in the sustainability strategy of any Games".

WRAP's London 2012 Waste Hierarchy
A "Waste Hierarchy" diagram from the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) published in its "Zero Waste Games Vision."

A huge challenge confronting the London Olympic and Paralympic Games organizing committee (LOCOG) was, and is, the problem of waste. There will be 14,700 athletes competing, over 10 million spectators pouring into the city and the other Olympic venues, plus another 21,000 journalists and around 200,000 staff.

Moreover, like the event industry, the construction industry - and any city hosting the Olympics becomes a messy construction site in the years leading up to the Games - is also known for generating mountains of waste. And yet, as the report points out "London 2012 chose to target the highest levels of resource efficiency and waste management....[and] all the core targets are either achieved or on track."

During the demolition and building stage, this meant achieving reuse or recycling targets of greater than 90% for demolition activities, and reuse, recycling or recovery targets exceeding 90% in the building phase. During the Games themselves, a 70% (by weight) reuse, recycling and composting target applies to operational waste.

Even more ambitious, however, is the target of zero waste directly to landfill ('direct' allows for the indirect waste which will emerge from material left over after an energy from waste process has taken place), which aims to ensure that, once the London Olympics are over, they will leave "an important legacy for environmental sustainability for UK infrastructure as a whole, in terms both of know-how and best practices."

In terms of waste, best practices at the London Games themselves exhibit integrated thinking that involves suppliers, commercial partners and the public, such as consumer messaging: in collaboration with Coca-Cola, a company with "considerable recycling on the go experience" a London 2012 Zero Waste Events Protocol has been developed.

Coca-Cola used its marketing knowledge to create an engaging consumer-facing campaign on site with clearly marked bins and messaging. Supplier collaboration is another example: working together with Heineken, a new recyclable plastic bottle, the first of its kind, was developed, which can be disposed of in the recycling bins available at London 2012. In total there will be 4000 containers for recycling, composting and residual waste across Olympic venues.

The organizing committee LOCOG has also declared that all packaging products, where not readily recyclable (such as PET), that are used for food, must be certified in accordance with European standard EN 13432 (the agreed European Standard for compostability).  LOCOG has also put regulations in place requiring that PET containers be kept separate for subsequent recycling and that the candy, snack and other wrappers be collected separately to be sent to energy-from-waste facilities.

Plant-based packaging is set to play a major role at London 2012. The organizing committee has been working closely with among others, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to establish guidelines for the management of waste collection, recycling and composting flows, thus helping catering services to choose the most suitable materials for their packaging. And the voluntary agreement on food and packaging waste  - the "Hospitality and Food Service Agreement" - presented in June by WRAP,  aims to support companies, authorities, communities and individuals to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste produced, by developing sustainable products and making more efficient use of the available resources.

Furthermore, in order to ensure integrity in the supply chain, LOCOG has appointed a single supplier - London Bio Packaging - for all non-sponsor food related packaging. Mater-Bi - the family of biodegradable and compostable bioplastics produced by Novamont - has been chosen by London Bio Packaging and two key sponsors as one of the reference materials for food packaging and catering services. Cutlery, straws, cups and lids at the London Olympic Games will be made of Mater-Bi by two of Novamont's main processing partners - Ecozema and SEDA.

Even the only branded food outlet at the Games venues, McDonald's, who will be running their world's largest restaurant at the Olympic park, will be providing their customers with cups, cutlery, straws, lids and containers which have all been strictly certified in accordance with standard EN13432 and made of Mater-Bi.

By providing visitors, athletes, officials and staff with the correct tools, London 2012 aims to become the biggest zero waste event in history. The next 16 days will show just how well the city has succeeded in this goal.

TPE resin prices, July 23-27: PE up $0.01/lb; PP rises slightly by $0.005; Processors stock up ahead of proposed August increases

Polyethylene added another penny and has risen steadily throughout July, now up $0.04/lb, while polypropylene edged up a half-cent and broke into positive territory after starting the month on a weak tone. Plastics spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE), said producers pushed back against an early call for a follow-through price decrease in July, instead holding PE contracts steady. PE producers are looking to leverage recent market momentum into August in a bid to enable some or all of their $0.05/lb price increase. August PP contracts will follow polymer grade propylene (PGP), which is currently trading at a slight discount to July contracts.TPE resin prices, July 27, 2012

Energy markets "took a breather", according to TPE, giving back some recent gains. September crude oil futures slid $1.70/bbl, but held the $90/bbl support level, ending the week at $90.13/bbl. September natural gas futures also fell but managed to close above their psychological support of $3/mmBtu. The market ended the week at $3.015/mmBtu, for a $0.061/mmBtu loss. The crude oil : natural gas price ratio has been fairly steady around 30:1.

Ethylene's spot market inched higher in relatively limited trade. Gulf cracker complexes are still running smoothly, and the front-end of the market recouped most of the $0.015/lb loss seen in the previous week. Material for July delivery ended the week just shy of $0.49/lb, while August ethylene sold at a fractional discount. The forward curve steepened slightly and remains backwardated, priced down around $0.46/lb by the end of the year. After several weeks of strength ethane prices eased, shedding about $0.015/gal to finish at around $0.385/gal ($0.1625/lb).

Polyethylene (PE) picked up another penny on average last week. HDPE and other commodity grades continue to outpace the less active products. Generic prime railcar offerings have turned scarce, and while offgrade is more available, it is still limited. July PE contracts rolled flat and there was a $0.05/lb price increase nominated for August. National resellers with excess inventory have raised asking prices reflecting their replacement costs. The export market remains active, according to TPE, and Houston traders who had trouble finding orders a month ago are now moving material at a higher price. "Domestic demand remains in question," TPE CEO Michael Greenberg said, "while purchasing was very strong in June and continued during July, some has certainly been for re-stocking which will be important when the August nickel comes into play."

Propylene's spot market was quiet, with few deals transacted. PGP for July delivery slid almost a penny to around $0.485/lb, with material for August at about $0.49/lb. The market dropped $0.07/lb in the beginning of the month and has recovered somewhat, but remains at a several-cent discount to July contracts which rolled steady at $0.52/lb. "Unless something significant occurs, August PGP contract movement will also be benign," Greenberg said. TPE noted that the forward curve is currently in a normal contango, as prices gently rise to $0.5075/lb by December.

Polypropylene (PP) spot prices firmed about a half-cent, but there were few railcar offers made available and reseller inventories seem to be dwindling. Some grades are outright difficult to find, so if there is an urgent need for spot PP, one might expect to pay up a bit. Houston traders have also been able to move some of their excess stocks offshore; however, while there are buyers, export pricing is not great. Domestic spot demand is still lackluster, according to TPE which said that many processors are well-stocked from June purchases. Those shops are looking to sit tight: "without the imminent fear of a sharp increase, [processors] prefer to just watch the market for now.

Final thought from Michael Greenberg:

The first quarter of 2012 saw sharp increases; PE tacked on $0.06/lb ($0.11/lb including Dec 2011), while PP jumped $0.215/lb. Much of the increases were due to the heavy cracker turnaround season and consequential tight monomer supplies. Fortunes reversed in the second quarter as even steeper decreases were implemented. PE dropped $0.14/lb and PP relief measured to $0.255/lb. The third quarter so far is well, just ho-hum; demand seems off and producers sitting with light inventories have been stingy with their resin. Contracts for both major commodity resin groups rolled flat in July and while spot Polyethylene has some upward momentum into the August $0.05/lb increase, contract PP price movement should be minimal. There are still some disruptive variables to watch for including the continued resurgence in export demand and potential storm-related disruptions in the Gulf.

PolyOne joins additive manufacturing project

PolyOne Corporation (Avon Lake, OH) is to participate in a three-year collaboration project with university and industry experts to develop advanced materials and production parts using 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing.

The project is made possible through an Ohio Third Frontier grant of nearly $3 million to the University of Dayton Research Institute, which will collaborate with PolyOne and other companies to develop and produce polymer formulations that will be used in specialty applications for the aerospace and automotive industries. Other project participants include GE Aviation, Rapid Prototype & Manufacturing Inc. (RP+M; Avon Lake, OH), and Stratasys (Eden Prairie, MN).

"We are honored to be part of this collaborative project and provide our formulation expertise to develop these specialty applications," said Dr. Christopher Murphy, VP, research and development, and chief innovation officer, PolyOne. "We look forward to working with the other project participants in Ohio to bring these new innovations to market."

The Ohio Third Frontier is a technology-based economic development initiative that provides funding for open innovation, entrepreneurial support, value-chain development, and expansion of a skilled talent pool that can support technology-based economic growth. —[email protected]

Fencing rebound led by plastics, composites

Plastics and composite fencing is forecast to see the most rapid growth in demand through 2016 in a U.S. fencing market forecast to expand 7.1%/yr. In a new study, The Freedonia Group Inc. (Cleveland, OH) predicted that U.S. fencing market would be valued at $8.3 billion in 2016, with total demand for 835 million linear feet.

The reported posited that growth will be driven by an expected rebound in building construction from a depressed 2011 base.  In addition, advances will also be supported by rising installation of high-value fences, such as ornamental metal and composite fencing. Freedonia reported that consumers are opting for these materials because of their favorable aesthetic and performance properties.PVC fencing

Plastic and composite fencing materials will benefit from the fact that they often resemble natural wood but have minimal maintenance needs and longer lifespans.  Freedonia said they're also seen as being "green" because they are often made from recycled materials, including reclaimed plastics and wood scraps.

Metal fencing accounted for the largest share of the fencing market in both dollar value and linear feet in 2011, and its demand is expected to increase in line with the industry average through 2016. 

Freedonia believes wood fencing demand will advance at a below-average pace through 2016. The researchers stated that wood is most often used in the residential market because of its low cost and favorable aesthetics, but that is expected to be checked by competition from plastic and composite fencing on the basis of reduced maintenance.

Powered by PVC
Global demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is the predominant plastic fencing material, was projected to reach 49 million tons by the year 2017, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts.

That report said that while improving infrastructure and housing conditions in the developing countries continue to sustain the demand for PVC, long-term growth would be most impacted by the "resurgence in the construction markets in the developed economies and easing of the supply-demand imbalances."

The construction industry accounts for close to 75% of PVC demand. The report said that after enduring demand contraction in 2008 and 2009, the PVC market experienced an upsurge in demand in 2010. In 2011, PVC demand remained stagnant at 2010 levels, with no significant growth recorded in the end-use markets.

Chicago Mold’s Ralph Oswald named 2012 AMBA Mold Builder of the Year

Ralph Oswald, CEO of Chicago Mold Engineering Co. (CME; St. Charles, IL), was the recipient of the Mold Builder of the Year award given  by the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) at its annual convention in May. The award, sponsored by mold component supplier Progressive Components, was presented by outgoing AMBA President Mike Armbrust, and includes a $5000 endowment for continuing education in moldmaking for the educational program of Oswald's choice. The Tooling and Machining Association (TMA) Education Foundation and the Industrial Technology Department at East Leyden High School will share the endowment equally.

Chicago Mold 2012 AMBA Mold Builder of the Year
Mold Builder of the Year: Ralph Oswald (r) receiving the AMBA's Mold Builder of the Year award, with Don Mazurek, one of CME's team members.

Chicago Mold has always fostered an educational environment with apprentices in the company's own program that it developed, Oswald told PlasticsToday. "Apprentices are the key to this industry, and they have a vital part to play," he said in a telephone interview. "If you get rid of your apprentices, you get rid of your future. We never gave up attracting young people to the trade."

Chicago Mold was founded in 1944 by Eric W. Oswald, Ralph's father. The company was an early adopter of new technology including CAD/CAM, CNC machines and in 2005, Ralph Oswald acquired what the company claims was the first ATOS III white light scanner in North America. Used for complex reverse engineering, the scanner also is used to qualify every mold the company builds prior to shipment. CME recently upgraded to the latest ATOS system, improving both its speed and its ability to capture find hidden details.

Chicago Mold builds a variety of injection and compression molds, and is known globally for its expertise in building automotive head and tail light lens molds, a specialty demanding high accuracy on a large scale.

Oswald credits staying current with the latest technology and his skilled team at CME for the company's long-term success. He also said that being able to retain employees and keeping turnover low also helped. "Keeping the crew together is important," he said.

Tech Mold adds equipment, expands capabilities

Equipment purchased includes a new Mitsubishi Wire EDM that is faster than the company’s current equipment. The new machine has an anti-electrolysis generator and cylindrical drive technology that means “zero backlash and zero wear on the ways,” according to Karl Szanto, VP Operations for Tech Mold.
A new Mitsubishi Sinker EDM with Mitsubishi robot has just been put into service. This combination equipment not only upgrades Tech Mold’s sinker equipment, but adding the robot allows the company to perform more lights-out operations to improve productivity.
The new Laser Micro-Welder used for mold repairs will provide faster welding performance and offers finer settings than currently available on Tech Mold’s previous laser welding equipment. Additionally, the new laser welder accommodates 0.003 to 0.020 rod that the company commonly uses for mold repair.
A new Okamoto CNC Surface Grinder was added to the automated grinding department that replaces one the company has had in use for many years.
“Tech Mold has always updated its equipment and stayed on the cutting edge of new technology,” said Szanto. “It’s the way we stay globally competitive in the markets we serve, especially in these improving economic times.”

KM to tout cleanroom-ready machine at Taipei Plas

KraussMaffei will use this September's Taipei Plas (booth 1401 NanGang Exhibition Hall) to promote its MX 850 injection molding machines, which are produced in China, focusing on the CleanForm series for medical molding. KraussMaffei said its CX Series is certified according to Cleanroom Class ISO 5, ISO 14644-1 and Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) Sterility Class A. Its EX CleanForm production cell was systematically designed for cleanroom applications in the highest classes (Class A according to GMP).KraussMaffei clean room injection molding CleanForm

Karlheinz Bourdon, VP Technologies in KraussMaffei's injection molding segment, noted in a release that his company has been "a reliable partner for many years" for medical and pharmaceutical molders with its CX and EX machines. "The all-electric EX CleanForm sets the highest standards throughout the industry in regard to the production of sterile components," Bourdon said.

KraussMaffei offers different machine series featuring CleanForm variants like inside, outside drop, outside robot, and room-in-room. In addition to the supply of machines and robots, KraussMaffei offers consulting, engineering, and documentation services for the medical industry.

The CX Series is a "compact" hydraulic and the EX series is all-electric in design. The Munich-based machinery manufacturer offers what it calls "an extensive module for configuring the ideal cleanroom machine for every customer." CleanForm production cell can be completed by linear robots with vertical or lateral entry and industrial robots in different designs.

Sour grapes: Does boxed wine leave a plastic taste behind?

The bottle versus bag-in-box. For wine lovers, this debate can bring strong emotions that only a glass of wine can help to calm down.

It all boils down to one question - does boxed wine leave a different taste than bottled?

I did a Google search on this crucial topic, and found there are several discussions evaluating these ideas. Some believe bagged wine to "leave a plastic taste" while others feel boxed wine passes the taste test with flying colors.

Well, to add fuel to the fire, a group of researchers from the Joint Research Unit Agropolymer Engineering and Emerging Technologies in Montpellier, France, claim bag-in-box wine loses key flavor and aroma compounds to the plastic packaging, according to an article by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

However, the researchers have not yet showed how the loss of these compounds affects the taste.

The objectives of this study were to demonstrate that the presence of ethanol in a solution containing two esters and two aromatic alcohols has several consequences on the sorption of these compounds into polyethylene (PE) film, according to the researchers.

The researchers mixed the two esters and two aromatic alcohols into an ethanol solution that helped to create a model for wine.

Ethyl butyrate and ethyl hexanoate are compounds that give wine fruit flavors, whereas phenylethyl alcohol provides a floral odor almost like rose with hints of honey, and 4-ethylphenol release a smoky note. These compounds were quickly absorbed by the polyethylene film with ethyl hexanoate having a particularly strong affinity for the non-polar polyethylene. After five days, a quarter of the ethyl hexanoate had been "scavenged" by the film, according to the RSC.

The research stated the material in contact with the wine might interact with aroma compounds, which may induce losses and modify the aromatic profile.

There are many studies and speculations on how packaging may have an influence on the quality of wine. Wine oxidation is said to be one of the main causes of the loss of quality.

Another study from the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV) of Bordeaux looked into the evolution of wine quality in different packaging configurations. An analysis was carried out of the influence of packaging on the sensory characteristics of red and white wine over an 18 months period. Glass bottles, Bag in Box, and polyethylene terephthalate bottles were used in this investigation.

Significant differences were brought to light, according to the researchers. Packaging has a significant impact on the evolution of white wine during storage.

White wine was noticeably affected after six months of conservation in PET bottles. The white wine in PET bottles and plastic bags had an increase in oxygen along with decreases in carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

When it came to red wine, however, there weren't any significant differences between the different packaging.

So does this mean red wine can handle any type of packaging, but white wine is a bit trickier? It's hard to tell if we'll ever come to a conclusion.

Tell me, what are your thoughts about these studies? Does packaging influence what type of wine you buy?

Nanocomposite hull boosts speed, range of anti-piracy vessel

Zyvex Marine (Bothell, WA) a division of molecular nanotechnology company Zyvex Technologies (Columbus, OH), has launched a marine security vessel based on a carbon fiber nanocomposite hull that will be deployed off the African coast for duties including piracy protection.

The LRV-17 advanced Long Range Vessel is designed for fuel efficiency and rough sea stabilization with a sprint speed over 40 knots and a range of over 1500 nautical miles, more than three times the range of comparatively sized vessels. Global Maritime Security Solutions (GMSS), a leading maritime security company based in Dubai, will deploy the vessels for maritime security, including piracy protection, off the coast of Africa and surrounding areas.


Lightweight hull incorporates carbon nanotubes.


Carbon nanotube-enhanced door is two-thirds lighter.

The LRV-17 is built from Arovex, a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic enhanced with carbon nanotubes that reduces structural weight, allowing for more efficient fuel usage and increased range. This is the first time nanocomposites have been used as the primary material for a manned vessel.

The LRV-17 is modeled after the Piranha Unmanned Surface Vessel, which debuted in 2010. The Piranha established Zyvex as a pioneer of nano-composite marine manufacturing. The 54-ft Piranha weighs 8000 lb yet would have weighed 40,000 lb with traditional materials The vessel now joins several technology applications using Arovex, including doors, hatches and closures developed jointly with Pacific Coast Marine (Everitt, WA). The partners recently unveiled a door that weighs 66% less than a traditional door (weight reduced from 150 lb to just 50 lb) and is more durable.

"As the first molecular nanotechnology engineering company in the marine industry, we are proud to launch a manned vessel platform after successfully proving the unmanned platform and then introducing the industry's lightest and most durable doors, hatches, and other marine closures. These applications of nanocomposites are advancing commercial and defense partners' capabilities when it comes to safety and efficiency," says Byron Nutley, VP of Zyvex Technologies and general manager of Zyvex Marine.

The 17m vessel's deep-V hull is designed for fuel efficiency and uses an active gyroscope stabilizer for improved sea handling and decreased human fatigue factors. It is fully deployable with only two operators and can be equipped with an additional four shock-mitigating seats for support personnel, allowing six crew to remain at sea for over five days. Zyvex Marine performed primary design and engineering, with secondary engineering, installation, and test analysis being performed by partners Pacific Coast Marine, S3 Maritime, Eltech Electric, Seakeeper, and Donald L. Blount and Associates.

GMSS plans to launch a Merchant Vessel Convoy Escort Program by deploying security teams to operate two LRV-17s to protect ships en route. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, there were 439 worldwide piracy attacks in 2011. One report estimated the piracy impact on the global economy to be $7 billion for 2011, the most detailed estimate to date. (1)

"The new LRV-17 boats are game changers in maritime security missions because they are the only vessels capable of long-range escort and high speeds to deal with multiple pirate threats. They need only small security teams to effectively operate," says Rhynhardt Berrange, Managing Director of GMSS. "These attributes create a cost-effective platform to ensure maritime security. The visible presence of the new vessels is expected to deter and help prevent piracy attempts and attacks." —[email protected]