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Track plastics packaging with tracer-loaded masterbatch

A new breed of masterbatch has been designed to help OEMs, brand owners and others track their goods to help resolve security, counterfeiting, liability and other issues, even at the retail store level. Filled with molecular tracers, the masterbatches can be used in both rigid and flexible plastic packaging applications.

Marketed as AmpaTrace by masterbatch supplier Ampacet Corp. (Tarrytown, NY), these masterbatches are one means a manufacturer can better defend against losses due to counterfeiting. "Studies have shown that about 7% of all products sold are counterfeit, resulting in revenue losses of $200 billion in the U.S. alone," according to Rich Novomesky, Ampacet business unit manager. "The global market and the advances in printing and packaging technology mean that risks to a company's brand abound."

Ampacet is working with several suppliers on the molecular tracers, but would not reveal which ones. We've written on such tracers in the past, specifically ones from Microtrace in the U.S. and Polysecure in Germany. Such tracers, previously used primarily with high-value or controlled products such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, currency, agricultural products and explosives, now are being used more frequently for a variety of consumer and industrial products to verify brand ownership, manufacturers' lots and tamper evidence.

A brand owner or processor can work with Ampacet to tailor AmpaTrace molecular signatures to their packaging needs. The supplier also provides analytical services to positively identify the molecular tracer in a package at the store or plant level, if needed.

The type, proportion and concentration of special compounds in these masterbatches can be varied to create a "product fingerprint" that can be measured by visual, audible or standard laboratory analytical tools. Depending on the type of security needed, AmpaTrace molecular tracers can include UV-activated, ferromagnetic, infrared, and other components.

"Manufacturers can apply AmpaTrace identifiers alone or as part of a multi-level traceability system in conjunction with bar codes, digital tags, product taggants and other elements," says Novomesky. "In addition to detecting counterfeit products, in litigation, it can help identify the source of ingredients in a package. It also can aid quality by validating that a package contains the right Ampacet colorants or additives at the level specified."

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