The commencement of the 2009 activities of Australian Institute of Packaging [AIP] in Victoria was prompted as 3 diverse views on plastic packaging and was a joint meeting with members of The Society of Plastics Engineers [SPE]. Diverse it certainly was!
Real and developing plastic packaging and technical considerations were the order of the evening and none in the large audience could say it was not diverse. Although they fronted up expecting three to be the high number figures as high as 67 trillion were advised by Max Bushby of M.J. Bushby [Consulting] Pty Ltd during his presentation
Paul Haggett Business Development Manager Detmold Flexibles discussed the emerging trends in combining plastics and paper in flexible packaging materials explaining the whys and wherefores of the technology. The reasons behind combinations are many but include the increase of renewable resources in disposable packaging. This is driven by the nature of flexible packages and their not being currently a part of the waste recyclables stream.
The ability to hone in on Hot Buttons arising from consumer and marketing demands by using newer materials is quicker and the difference is real. The addition of paper gives more rigidity and is able to be promoted as greener as it is a renewable resource. The combination materials are superior in a number of areas and deliver consumers packages that are pleasing to look and touch, both of which are paramount in the pressure cooker environment once known as shopping.
But as Paul explained the complexity of "Green Issues" is confusing and is exacerbated by the fact that legislation lags a long way behind technology and consumer demands. He showed some examples of packages where combined paper and plastics are used and without doubt consumers would put the material in the paper recycle bin. On the other hand a number of full plastic packages are specifically designed to look and feel like paper.
In conclusion Mr Haggett proffered that serious reductions in Petro-chemical based materials will take decades and the looming carbon trading programs raise uncertainties. On the other hand, paper and plastics combined materials lean toward sustainability and give more "greenie points". However consumer demands are sacrosanct and must be at the top of considerations. Emotions such as the heart tick, pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness and dolphin free tuna often underpin these demands.
SPE encompasses engineers who would have found the presentation of Dr Fugen Daver of RMIT School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering exhilarating. Even non technical listeners could follow her voyage of discovery into stress cracking of PET bottle bases.
Stress cracking of the base of plastic bottles is a cost that Dr Daver and her team have been attempting to mitigate. Considerations have been high IV polymer resin, coating of PET with other materials and CAD designs to lower internal stress.
A series of technical visual graphs, photographs and calculation formulae were displayed leading to the conclusion: -
"PET bottles with the optimum base design combined with optimized process conditions are able to deliver a better stress crack performance compared to current bottle base design without jeopardizing the overall performance of the bottles."
Dr Fugen advised that the methodology which couples statistical Design of Experiments (DoE) with numerical Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to determine the optimum base design for bottles can be transferred to other optimization problems in the packaging industry.
Max Bushby is patient beyond belief! He came along to update members on the development of his Promax ® Plastic Can which has been in concept and development for eleven years.
Unfortunately current negotiations and patent applications prevented Max from giving much information save in general terms. Promax ® is now able to be sealed and has hot fill capability and able to withstand retorting as well. The company headed by Max is also manufacturing the machinery to make the preforms and a 48 cavity machine is under design in Canada.
There can be no doubt that the potential of the plastic can is beyond comprehension if Max's global marketing intelligence is correct. The main advantage is the freight costs; for the plastic can is transported to the filing line as a preform and saves 66% of transport volume. Even in the current economic downturn an investor has offered as much as US$23 billion because the US beverage market alone equates to 67 trillion cans a year.
Every outing of the Promax ® Plastic Can brings it closer to fruition and gauging by the number of delegates who swooped on Max after his spiel when it blows it will really test his injection strength blow moulding system [ISBM] that seems to underpin the development.
One alarming bit of advice from Max was that his company in collaboration with the University of Newcastle [NSW] have trained a number of PHD students only to see them find work overseas in countries such as Vietnam due to little opportunity here.
The next meeting of AIP in Melbourne is to a recycling depot which is opportune. Members are enjoined to look for plastic cans and paper laminated Flexibles and PET bottles with stress cracked bases.
Written by Michael B Halley FAIP
Thursday, 5 February 2009
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