Saturday, December 29, 2012

French Senate Imposes Law Restricting the Use of BPA in Food Contact Materials

The French Senate recently adopted a law imposing a use restriction for products intended to come into direct contact with foodstuffs containing BPA. The members of the PC/BPA and ERC groups express severe disappointment and concern upon this decision; it fails to respect EU and global authority risk assessments that repeatedly confirmed the safety of use for BPA in food contact materials, including products for newborns and small children. A new full reassessment of BPA by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is expected in May 2013. No unilateral national measures should be taken before EFSA releases its opinion on the safety of the substance. Industry is deeply disappointed to see the French government not respecting the existing EU rules for food safety, and will be considering all options as reaction to this decision.
The French decision may result in a reduction, and not an enhancement, of French consumer safety, and will create a significant distortion of the internal and international market for food contact goods in the EU.

Too many open questions
The law has been adopted without addressing practical questions for its actual implementation in France or for global trade. No sufficient consideration has been given to the evidence of safety of alternative materials, the management of products currently in the shelves, the practicability and legality of health warning labels on products that are legally marketed, the drafting of measuring and compliance guidelines, the control of imported goods containing BPA which will be legal in the EU and beyond the EU, but illegal in France, potential impact on processing and transporting food etc.
France is now to notify the planned law to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Sanitary or Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). This process allows other countries to assess and respond to the intended ban within a period of 60 days. During that time, the law is not allowed to be promulgated in France. Industry is of the opinion that the law is likely to be incompatible with WTO SPS rules which are based on scientific principles.
Once the law is promulgated, food packaging for children up to the age of three will be banned from the first day of the month following the promulgation, whilst all BPA-based food contact applications will be restricted from January 2015. Industry urges all stakeholders to notify the European Commission and the WTO of their views and potentially harmful implications of the French law. The "reversing" of the roles between EU and Member States regarding decisions on food safety sets a dangerous precedent whereby established EU risk management processes are ignored, the integrity and credibility of EFSA and other EU risk assessment bodies are undermined and the functioning of the internal and international market is severely threatened.
Open questions regarding the practical implementation of the French law:
  • Timing and applicability: By 1.7.2014, the government has to present to the French National Assembly a report assessing the safety/potential toxicity of alternative materials used to replace BPA. Six months later (1.1.2015) all BPA-based direct food contact materials will no longer be allowed in France.
    • What will be the data base for this report?
    • Will the report assess alternatives on a general level, like the previous ANSES report on alternative substances? -> Replacement of materials will have to take place on a food-by-food and product-by-product basis and there will not be a "one-for-all" solution, as is the current situation with BPA-based materials.
    • Will a report raising doubts on the safety of alternative materials delay the date of the law to be enforced? -> It will not be feasible to replace a material in food processing with another one within less than 6 months.
    • What will be the criteria upon which to decide about safety for alternative materials? -> The currently valid criteria have been ignored for BPA.
Each food contact product is to have a label warning of its use by pregnant and breastfeeding women and for children under the age of three years.
    • There is as yet no decree that defines the application of this rule to legally marketed products
    • Would this also apply to products already in the shelves?
    • How will practical implementation be managed and controlled?
    Enforcement and control:
    • What will be measured: food, direct food contact material, whole packaging?
    • What will be the limit level and the analytical method used?
    • Who will control?
    • How will imported products be controlled?
Safety of alternative materials must be proven
The members of the PC/BPA and epoxy resin groups welcome the National Assembly decision to request the government to submit a report evaluating possible alternatives to BPA with respect to their potential toxicity before 1 July 2014. In fact, certain claims regarding the availability of appropriate alternative materials for use in all food contact applications are non-substantiated. For the vast majority of products there are currently no adequate alternative substances or materials available, which are sufficiently tested, shelf-life-proven, and matching BPA's performance characteristics. However, in this context it appears astonishing that France invites the use of potential alternatives for products for small children as soon as possible, while in the same law it requests a report on the potential toxicity of alternatives only by July 2014 - this would mean a specially vulnerable part of the population could be exposed to products with an unknown toxicity profile during that period. A science-based assessment of alternative materials will be crucial to consumer safety in France.

Labelling discredits legally approved products
The request to label food packaging containing BPA with a health warning against its use by pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children below three is a paradox in itself. Products on the European market are tested and approved for their uses; if compliant with existing legislation, the sole effect of such a label will therefore be to discredit and question the suitability of a product that is safe for use and fulfills all legal and regulatory requirements. This decision:
  • substantially increases consumer concern about what they can rely on
  • adds little to consumer choice
  • will not contribute to increased safety of consumers
  • will cause incalculable added costs and complexity for business operators, the practical consequences for the French market will have to be observed.
BPA has repeatedly been assessed and confirmed safe for its intended uses:
♦ BPA-based materials in food contact comply with strict EU safety rules. There is no evidence that the exposure of consumers or workers to products made from materials based on BPA could cause a safety risk to human health. There is no scientific reason to replace a well-tested, authority-assessed and confirmed as safe product.
♦ EFSA assessed BPA safety in food contact materials in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 - on each occasion it was concluded that BPA can be safely used in its current food contact applications, including products for newborns and small children.
♦ After review of the 2011 French Food Safety Agency (ANSES) report on BPA, EFSA and the European Commission concluded there was no need for any risk reduction measures further to those already in place.
♦ In September 2012, Health Canada released its updated "Assessment of BPA Exposure from Food Sources" and once again confirmed that BPA is safe for use in food contact materials. The experts conclude: 'that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children'.

Source: European Information Center on Bisphenol A

Friday, December 21, 2012

Putnam Plastics Introduces Taper-Tie™ Variable Flexibility Tubing for Medical Catheter Shafts

Putnam Plastics Corporation, a leader in advanced extrusion for minimally invasive medical devices, introduces Taper-Tie™ variable flexibility tubing for catheter shafts that require maximum flexibility on one end for forward navigation and rigidity on the other end for directional control by physicians. Taper-Tie is a proprietary continuous extrusion technology designed to replace traditional manual assembly of segmented shafts and eliminate associated labor costs.

Diagnostic and interventional catheter devices can be over 100 cm (39 in.) in length to reach vascular sites deep within the body. The forward, or distal, end of the catheter must be soft and flexible to navigate complex vascular pathways while minimizing trauma. The end held by the physician, or proximal end, must be more rigid to allow the physician to advance and steer the catheter shaft. Variable stiffness properties can be achieved by changing materials, wall thicknesses or shaft diameters along the length of the shaft. Traditionally, medical device manufacturers have accomplished this by manually assembling and bonding segments along the length. However, this approach is labor intensive increasing costs and quality considerations.

Putnam's Taper-Tie proprietary technology is a continuous manufacturing method that produces a catheter shaft with variable properties along the length, and eliminates the need for manual assembly of discrete segments. Putnam's proprietary extrusion process can quickly change from rigid to soft grades for a designated polymer along the shaft length, while simultaneously reducing wall thickness of the shaft. The result is a highly flexible distal end and more rigid proximal end in a single extruded tube.

"Taper-Tie technology is a continuous, lean manufacturing process," said Larry Alpert, Putnam's Engineering Services Manager. "Variable flexibility of the catheter shaft is optimized with less manufacturing steps resulting in lower overall production costs."

Source: Putnam Plastics

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eastman Explores Novel Ways to Use Tenite™ Cellulosic Plastics for Innovative Applications

In a world that is constantly changing due to technological advancements and rapid innovation, it's rare that a product line can remain relatively unchanged yet continue to be relevant, decade after decade. But that's exactly the case with Eastman Chemical Company's Tenite™ cellulosics, a family of compounded cellulosic plastics introduced in 1932.
"Although we have developed approximately 200,000 different formulations, colors and patterns over the last 80 years, we're fundamentally using the same process as when we began compounding Tenite™ cellulosic plastics," said Lucian Boldea, Ph.D., vice president and general manager, specialty plastics, Eastman. Working with customers and external partners, Eastman continues to look for new and inventive uses for Tenite cellulosics. "We are currently exploring new ways to use Tenite cellulosics and are beginning work with a new generation of university design students to experiment with the plastics to create new and innovative applications."
Since their introduction, Tenite™ cellulosic plastics have been used in a variety of applications across numerous markets, including appliances, medical and visual merchandising. The compounded plastics have been used for telephones, automotive interiors, toys, playing cards, casino dice and musical instruments. Tenite cellulosics also continue to be used for face shields, tool handles, shopping cart handles, outdoor sign letters and ballpoint pens.
Historically, the primary use of Tenite™ cellulosics has been for eyeglass frames. Today, Eastman continues to be a world leader as a compounded cellulosics supplier for the eyewear market. In the past, the primary market for Tenite cellulosics was in North America, so the products were manufactured in Kingsport, Tenn. Although this tradition continues, in recent years, the plastics have been available globally from Eastman's U.S. and global operations. Usage is increasing in Asia, as there is a growing market for name-brand eyewear, high-performance tools, appliances and other applications that use Tenite cellulosics.
Tenite™ cellulosic plastics are made from renewable softwood materials, a substantial portion of which are derived from suppliers conforming to certified sustainable forestry management practices. These types of plastics are often called natural polymers, and they exemplify Eastman's efforts to provide its customers and consumers with an innovative, sustainable solution. Tenite cellulosics process at lower temperatures with faster drying times than competitive materials, improving energy consumption without forgoing performance.
"Although sustainability was not at the forefront of consumers' and customers' minds when Tenite™ cellulosics first came on the market, Tenite has served as an example of Eastman's sustainable material offering throughout the years," Boldea said. "Today, with an increasing interest in using sustainable materials, Tenite cellulosics continue to be a pertinent option for customers."
Tenite™ cellulosic plastics have a balance of properties, including toughness, hardness, strength, surface gloss, clarity and chemical resistance. These plastics are also easily molded, extruded or fabricated, and they are available in a variety of transparent and opaque colors and patterns. They're UV-resistant and can be used for products that are often used outdoors. One of the most unique attributes of Tenite cellulosics is that they are warm to the touch, making them ideal for hands-on applications.

Source: Eastman Chemical Company

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Altuglas International & NatureWorks Design Novel Alloys Based on PMMA & Ingeo™ Bioploymers

Altuglas International, a subsidiary of Arkema group, with its Plexiglas® and Altuglas® acrylic resins (Americas and Rest of World, respectively) and NatureWorks, a leader in the bio-plastics market with its Ingeo™ biopolymers derived from plants, have signed a global co-marketing agreement. The agreement is designed to deliver a range of newly formulated bio-based, high performance alloys based onpolymethylmethacrylate and Ingeo™.
The new materials will be marketed by Altuglas International as Plexiglas®/Altuglas® Rnew biopolymer alloys. Primary co-marketing efforts for these materials will be for durable goods applications, where the Plexiglas®/Altuglas® brand is synonymous with high performance, durability and clarity.

The agreement grew out of the overwhelming response the two companies experienced during the US National Plastics Exposition (NPE) last April, during which they jointly displayed examples of molded and thermoformed products made with their collaborative technologies for the durable goods market.
This unique range of resins affords customizable formulating latitude providing exceptional impact- and chemical-resistance properties. In addition, the resins offer a significantly reduced carbon footprint due to the Ingeo™ biopolymer content. These biopolymer alloys also feature lower processing temperatures and greater melt flow properties without compromising the optics, scratch resistance, color acceptance or surface aesthetics for which the Plexiglas® and Altuglas® brands are known.

The collaboration offers a compelling combination of properties designed to open new doors in the market, including significant opportunities for durable applications such as signage, lighting, consumer products, transportation, cosmetic packaging and large and small appliances.
"What makes this agreement so exciting is that two renowned, pioneering organizations are joining forces to combine some of the best in technology and market knowledge to foster new, high performing, yet sustainable, bio-based products," said Christophe Villain, Altuglas International president. "The agreement between these two leading companies will provide transparent, sustainable materials that meet durable application performance requirements. Altuglas International will compound and sell the Plexiglas®/Altuglas® Rnew portfolio, incorporating Ingeo™, directly into the market."
Marc Verbruggen, NatureWorks president and chief executive officer said, "By combining our respective reputations and strengths in biopolymers and acrylics, NatureWorks and Altuglas International will co-market clear materials that offer a complete package of innovative product performance. This is exactly what Ingeo™ was designed to offer."
Through the collaboration, Altuglas International and NatureWorks will pool resources to accelerate the introduction of these new high performance biopolymer alloys into the market.
Plexiglas® is the registered brand of Arkema for the Americas and Altuglas® for the rest of the word.
Ingeo™ and the Ingeo™ logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NatureWorks LLC in the USA and other countries.

Source: Arkema

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wageningen Develops Green Industrial Platform Using Microalgae to Produce Renewable Polymers

The 4-year SPLASH project will develop a new biobased industrial platform using microalgae as a renewable raw material for the sustainable production and recovery of hydrocarbons and (exo)polysaccharides from the species Botryococcus braunii and further conversion to renewable polymers. The project comprises of 20 partners of which 40% SME and several large corporates plus universities and research institutes.

Two bioproduction platforms will be explored: (1) green alga Botryococcus braunii on its own and (2) the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to which the unique hydrocarbon and polysaccharides producing genes from Botryococcus will be transferred.
SPLASH will deliver knowledge, tools and technologies needed for the establishment of a new industry sector: Industrial Biotechnology with algae and/or algal genes for the manufacture of polyesters and polyolefins. The building blocks for these polymers will be derived from the sugars (polyesters) and hydrocarbons (polyolefins) exuded by the algae: adipic acid from galactose, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid from glucose, rhamnose and fucose, 1,4-pentanediol from rhamnose and fucose, ethylene from 'green naphtha', propylene from 'green naphtha'.
The conversion of ethylene and propylene to polyolefins is common technology, and will not be included in the project. The sugar-derived building blocks will be converted to new condensation polymers, including poly(ethylene 2,5-furandioate) (PEF) and poly(1,4-pentylene adipate-co-2,5-furandioate). End-use applications include food packaging materials and fibers for yarns, ropes and nets.
The project encompasses
    1. Development of Botryococcus as an industrial production platform
    2. Systems biology analysis
    3. Development of procedures for production, in situ extraction and isolation
    4. Product development

Source: Wageningen UR

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lubrizol Corp Introduces Estane® Soft Plasticizer-free TPUs for Athletic Footwear Applications

The Lubrizol Corporation offers Estane® soft plasticizer-free thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) for athletic footwear applications. An alternative to conventional plasticized TPUs, Lubrizol's plasticizer-free TPUs provide an option for manufacturers sensitive to today's more stringent environmental requirements.
Conventional soft TPUs contain a phthalate-type plasticizer that may be subject to regulation by environmental agencies. In addition, such plasticizers can gradually migrate to the surface of the molded product, creating poor aesthetics and altering the bonding strength.
Lubrizol's line of plasticizer-free TPUs exhibit the performance attributes for which the company's engineered polymers are well known, including excellent flexibility, softness, abrasion resistance and moldability. Lubrizol's soft plasticizer-free Estane TPUs are available in both a polyester series (Estane T460AH, Estane T460A, Estane T465A and Estane T470A) and a polyether series (Estane T365A and Estane T370A). The Estane soft plasticizer-free TPUs range between 60A to 77A Shore hardness and offer high transparency and outstanding UV stability versus plasticizer-containing TPUs, qualities which best fit various accessory shoe components. These products are also ideal as replacements for rubber and PVC in various molding applications.
"The footwear industry is facing significant challenges in a fast-moving competitive environment," explains Justin Park, Lubrizol's global marketing manager for footwear. "Our soft plasticizer-free portfolio is just one of the ways Lubrizol is positioning itself as a global solutions provider for the athletic footwear industry."

Source: Lubrizol Corporation

Friday, December 7, 2012

VTT Develops Tech that Enables Production of Biobased PGA Plastic for Eco-friendly Packaging

VTT Technical Research Center of Finland has developed a technique to significantly improve the quality of bio-based plastic packaging. The new generation of bio-based plastic packaging is not only eco-friendly but also has several superior qualities compared to traditional plastic packaging. The plastic packaging industry is moving towards completely bio-based products. The volume of oil used every year in the production of plastics equates to approximately five per cent of the world's total oil consumption. Approximately 40 per cent of all plastics are used in packaging, which puts special pressure on the packaging industry to reduce dependence on oil.The use of renewable natural resources in industrial applications reduces dependence on oil and the carbon footprint attributable to consumption. A transition to bio-based economy nevertheless requires products that are not only ecologically sustainable but also competitive in terms of quality. VTT has developed a technique that enables the production of the PGA monomer glycolic acid from bio-based materials more efficiently than before.

"Bio-based plastics are a tangible step closer to a bio-based economy. This new generation of plastic packaging not only reduces our dependence on oil but also offers superior quality compared to traditional plastic packaging", explains Research Professor Ali Harlin from VTT.Bio-based PGA plastic has excellent barrier properties. Adding PGA into the structure of traditional plastic packaging significantly improves its quality. In addition to strength and heat resistance, plastic packaging also needs to be airtight, vapour-proof and grease-resistant. Bio-based PGA plastic is between 20 and 30 per cent stronger than PLA — the most popular biodegradable plastic on the market - and able to withstand temperatures 20 degrees Celsius higher. It also breaks down more quickly than PLA, but its biodegradability can be regulated if necessary.

Growing Market:Bio-based plastic opens up new business opportunities for the forest industry: The estimated total volume of the global packaging market is approximately EUR 500 billion. The Chinese and Indian markets, for example, are growing rapidly. Ethical consumption principles and legislative changes are steering the packaging industry towards sustainable development. At the moment, bio-based plastic accounts for approximately one per cent of global plastic production.The volume of oil used every year in the production of plastics equates to approximately five per cent of the world's total oil consumption. Approximately 40 per cent of all plastics are used in packaging, which puts special pressure on the packaging industry to reduce dependence on oil. According to lifecycle analyses, carbon dioxide emissions from bio-based plastics can be as much as 70 per cent lower than from oil-based plastics.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ECO Plastics & Coca Cola Enterprises' JV Picks up Green Business Award for Domestic Recycling

Continuum Recycling, ECO Plastics' groundbreaking joint venture with Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) has been recognized at the Green Business Awards 2012. Sam Richardson, representing ECO Plastics, and CCE's Patrick McGuirk accepted the Partnership Award at a ceremony at Lords Cricket Ground on Monday 12th November.
The award was given in recognition of Continuum's impact on the domestic recycling sector, as well as for the partnership's ongoing engagement with supply chains, customers and employees.

An important milestone for both the drinks manufacturing and recycling industries, Continuum reprocesses used plastic bottles in its purpose built facility in Hemswell which are then transformed into new Coca Cola bottles. The joint venture has also provided an economic boost and created skilled jobs in rural Lincolnshire.
The award is the latest in a string of prizes and short listings for the Lincolnshire business. These include listings on the Hiscox Tech Track 100 and Cleantech Connect Top 30 wins at the New Energy Awards and Fbe East Midlands Awards, and Jonathan Short's appointment as an Industry Champion for BIS' Make it in Great Britain Campaign, which aims to promote British manufacturing and encourage investment in domestic markets.

Jonathan Short, Managing Director of ECO Plastics, commented: "The Green Business Awards is one of the most prestigious awards in the environmental sector so ECO Plastics are honored to have been recognized. It's fantastic to see the industry acknowledge the dedication and hard work put into this project. UK sustainable packaging has huge growth potential and we hope Continuum will provide a blueprint for similar projects in this sector."
Patrick McGuirk, Recycling Director at Coca Cola Enterprises, said: "We were absolutely delighted to accept this prestigious accolade alongside ECO Plastics. Continuum Recycling is a first for the industry and the award underlines the significant achievement in bringing this initiative together. At CCE we are serious about setting the industry standard for sustainable packaging, and Continuum represents a crucial part of our ongoing efforts to build a low carbon, zero waste business here in Great Britain."

Source: Coca Cola Enterprises Ltd