Essel Propack has created HDPE barrier tube packaging that meets recyclability guidelines. | Picsfive/Shutterstock
A packaging manufacturer specializing in tubes for toothpaste, cosmetics, and other products has developed two tubes that meet recyclability guidelines.
Essel Propack, located in Mumbai, India, created HDPE barrier tube packaging that complies with the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) design agreement.
With factories in 12 countries and more than 2,200 employees, Essel Propack is the world's largest producer of laminated and co-extruded plastic pipes. In a recent APR webinar, Hariharan K. Nair of Essel Propack talked about the products and the testing process they went through. He also talked about the company's use of post-consumer resin (PCR) and how it developed a technology to recycle mixed aluminum-plastic production waste.
Essel Propack is the second company to announce recyclable tube packaging in recent months. The HDPE toothpaste tube developed by Colgate-Palmolive passed the APR recyclability test. The company received a letter from APR in April. (APR owns Resource Recycling, Inc., the publisher of Plastics Recycling Update.)
During the webinar, Nair explained that plastic barrier laminate (PBL) tubing is usually made of LDPE or LLDPE casing; EVOH, PET or PA barrier layer; HDPE shoulders; and a PP cap.
Earlier this year, Essel Propack launched Platina 250, an HDPE mixing tube containing less than 5% EVOH as a barrier layer, and Green Maple Leaf (GML) 300, a dispersion containing less than 5% PVOH to provide a barrier layer Nair said that polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) is expensive, but provides more effective barrier properties than ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), so it can be used in a smaller amount in packaging. He said that the environmental stress cracking (ESCR) performance of the two tubes is similar.
For the recyclability test, Essel Propack provided samples to an independent testing laboratory, Plastic Molding Enterprise (PFE), which recovered 100% of the control HDPE and a 50-50 Platina and GML mixture mixed with the control HDPE.
Nair said that PFE has found that the processing and the resulting particles meet APR's key guidelines. According to his introduction, PFE checked the melt index, density, screen pressure, the percentage of volatiles in the particles, the percentage of PP content, and the color.
"As you can see, as recommended by the APR control guidelines, adding up to 50% of Platina or GML particles to control the resulting results within the specified range," Nair explained in the webinar.
APR sent a letter to the company on September 10 confirming that the tubes meet APR's key recyclability guidelines. Essel Propack and other companies that have recently received important guidance letters will be recognized at the APR members meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 3.
Nair said the company also uses post-consumer resin (PCR) in its products. During the introduction, he said that the company often uses PCR provided by recyclers such as Envision Plastics and KW Plastics to use this material in the non-product contact layer of the tube. The tubes currently sold by Essel Propack have 25% PCR in the sleeve and 50% PCR in the shoulder.
Nair said the company has also started recycling post-industrial plastics produced in its factories. Essel Propack cooperated with an external blow molding machine to carry out a trial of Platina and GML after the recycling industry. The tube is crushed and mixed with a sample of blow molding grade HDPE for 50-50, with a density of 0.96 g/cm3 and a melt index of 0.3. The sample was blow molded into a 20-gram bottle.
“As the research shows, it met expectations without any major modifications, and the suppliers provided very positive feedback on the performance of the two resins,” Nair said.
In addition, Nair said, in March 2019, Essel Propack launched the so-called "Freedom Project", which involved the recycling of post-industrial aluminum barrier laminate tubes produced in the company's factories. The company chopped up tube waste and then ground it into powder. Then, without using heat or chemicals, it separates the aluminum powder from the polymer powder, each of which can be recycled into new products. He said that recycled plastic can be used for blow molding of injection molded products. The next stage will involve extending the process to post-consumer aluminum layer tubes.
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