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Australian Institute of Packaging holds joint meeting with Society of Plastics Engineers

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article image AIP joint meeting with SPE

The 2008 calendar of Australian Institute of Packaging [AIP] in Victoria started with a joint meeting with the Society of Plastics Engineers [SPE] when recycled and virgin delegates linked molecules to form an audience.

The theme of the meeting was advertised as recycled bollards, master batches and European packaging trends which were the subject of presentations from three speakers.

Peter Patterson, general manager of Repeat Products [RPA] trading as Replas Victoria commenced proceedings and explained Repeat Products’ processing systems for post consumer and post industrial waste.

RPA is producing over 200 robust, high quality products from 100% recycled material diverted from Australia’s domestic and commercial waste streams.

The technology used by Replas Victoria allows waste to be converted into quality recycled products that compete economically with the virgin products they replace.

Waste is a word that may need redefinition in dictionaries as it is a commercial tradable product, certainly in post consumer plastics. Something that used to go to landfill by paid collectors is now valued at as much as $1000.00 a tonne.

Peter Patterson explained that Australians annually produce 71kg of plastic waste per capita and that 90% of rubbish on beaches is plastic.

As Peter Patterson said the waste was created by us and we have a responsibility to clean it up and went on to advise that Replas Victoria gives plastic a better life the second time around.

Not only are municipal refuse facilities and industry sources of plastic to recycle but a venture with Ritchies IGA supermarkets is in place where Replas Victoria collects plastic shopping bags returned by environmentally conscious consumers.

The reclaimed material that uses less energy than melting virgin material and produces no pollution or waste is turned into all manner of outdoor furniture and building materials.

Replas Victoria has become accustomed to hearing about the 3 Ps but Replas Replas Victoria promotes 8 Rs in consideration of plastic life cycles. These are: - rethink- refuse-reduce-reuse-repair-recycle-recovery and release.

Reuse is not possible without original production and that was the subject addressed by the next presenter.

Steve Coulton, sales manager, Acquos Masterbatch had the task to explain how problems associated with distortion and warpage in rigid plastic packaging can be overcome by way of improved part and tool design or through the addition of nucleation additives into the polymer.

Acquos Masterbatch has recently developed a breakthrough in Masterbatch concentrate technology that reduces distortion in rigid plastic packaging resulting in faster processing and filling times with less rejects and processing headaches through controlled nucleation and re-crystallisation of the polymer during the cooling cycle.

A definition of Masterbatch is: -
Masterbatch is a concentrated mixture of pigments and/or additives encapsulated during a heat process into a carrier resin which is then cooled and cut into a granular shape. Masterbatch allows the processor to colour or modify raw polymer economically during the plastics manufacturing process.

Steve Coulton’s time on stage was a technical explanation and circulating sample of products to demonstrate the typical problems that can arise in the plastic injection moulding process in rigid packaging.

The SPE members were comfortable with the nomenclature of nucleation, re-crystallising and warpage while the less technical could also understand the ramifications of distorted packaging and the benefits of Acquos Masterbatch in fixing these problems.

Correct technical advice and selection of materials and processes can increase productivity by as much as 25% which is a good reason to take professional advice such as that provided by Acquos Masterbatch.

As would be expected Acquos Masterbatch has a range of eco friendly colorants for use in biodegradable resin batching also. Whilst Steve Coulton collected his samples Jefferson Hopewell, from Eco Products Agency took centre stage.

Jefferson Hopewell covered recent developments and trends in plastic packaging in Europe, with particular emphasis on changes and innovations in packaging practice in response to ecological considerations and legislation.

Jefferson Hopewell’s contention is that bioplastic is impossible to clearly define and set the scene by asking the audience to consider that PE made from ethanol derived from sugar has an ethylene base as does material starting from fossil fuel.

The test is of course if the material is capable of being broken down by decomposer organisms. [If it is not then Replas can help]

Jefferson Hopewell gave an overview of the reclamation of packaging materials throughout the European Community [EU] and comparisons with the local scene. EU countries have targets set under EU directive 94/62 EC dealing with waste minimisation and recycling that are backed by legislation, whereas Australia is pursuing industry self-regulation to achieve government targets.

Retailers and manufacturers in Europe have accepted the legislation and committed to the process of change. The major department store has stated that by 2012 all packaging will be recyclable or compostable and that a 25% reduction in glass packaging will be achieved in the same time frame.

A confectionery manufacturer has committed to a 10% reduction in packaging materials overall with a whopping 25% in product sold for gifting. This is an example of over packaging brought about by marketers tapping into the consumers desire to please.

Light weighting of PET bottles in England is an interesting study as records show variances between the best of class and the worst. If one gram of material can be removed from a PET bottle, 100 million units will deliver a saving of 100 tonne of material and 36 tonne of CO2e.

HDPE bottles in the UK can now be made in a closed loop with 30% of the feedstock being reclaimed material. There are some examples of PET bottles made of 100% recycled material.

Bioplastic bottles currently have no recyclability as there is as yet no recycle infrastructure for PLA material but as the use grows something will eventuate. Totally biodegradable food trays including the plastic wrapping was shown and explained as coming from consumer pressure, green competition and legislation.

Green competition is a phenomenon as brand owners strive for market share and claim mine is greener than yours, maybe size does not matter.

A spirited question time ensued with most revolving around reclaiming unlike materials from the waste stream. As varied as the materials were the answers.

One PVC bottle in ten thousand will contaminate a PET recycle batch but at Replas non plastics such as paper labels are absorbed into the finished material without affecting the tensile strength of the product.

Llewellyn Stephens the AIP National President on behalf of Australian Institute of Packaging and SPE thanked and gifted the presenters with a product in totally recyclable packaging.

The Australian Institute of Packaging in Victoria is supported by Australian Industry Group and Michael Magelakis spoke about the involvement and the joint venture eduction courses being run in Melbourne.

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