Flexible packaging trends show ‘clear’ and ‘clean’ opportunities

By Lisa McTigue Pierce in Flexible Packaging on November 16, 2016

Recyclable pouches, clear barrier films and “clean” materials—that is, those without undesirable substances—stand out among the flexible packaging trends identified by experts at The Dow Chemical Co. during an exclusive interview at Pack Expo Intl. 2016 (Nov. 6-9; Chicago).

Thinner, stronger, faster running (on converting and product filling lines) describes sought after film characteristics, delivered by various technologies developed recently by Dow, that also address consumer preferences for sustainability, snackability and convenience.

Enhanced polyethylene films, resins and adhesives from Dow—such as Innate, Pacacel, Agility and Dowlex—continue to optimize flexible packaging performance by offering:

• “Clean” materials that are inert and safe;

• Monolayer and barrier films that can be recycled;

• Abuse-resistant films that protect products switching from rigid to flexible packaging or shipping through the rough-and-tumble ecommerce small-parcel environment.

Packaging Digest had an opportunity to talk with several packaging leaders from Dow at the show about sustainability, coex versus lamination innovations, ecommerce opportunities and the pending merger with DuPont.

What are some of the benefits of your newer sustainable packaging technologies?

Lamy Chopin, global development leader, Packaging & Specialty Plastics: RecycleReady Technology enables converters and brand owners to bring to market packaging with the features of typical multi-material, multi-layered pouches, such as those made using PacXpert Technology, with the added benefit of recyclability. We recently introduced the latest evolution of the technology that helps enable the development of oxygen barrier packaging that can be recycled in areas where store drop-off programs exist.

All packages developed with RecycleReady Technology must be submitted to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for acceptance into the How2Recycle label program.

As for PacXpert Technology, it enables the transition from larger traditional rigid containers to flexible packaging options, with the great combination of durability and light weight.

Combining RecycleReady Technology with PacXpert Technology produces a tough, easy-to-handle pouch that can be recycled through store drop-off locations.

 

In earlier days, innovation in flexible packaging was focused on coextrusions. Now, it seems like most activity is in laminations. What's your take on this and why?

Heather Turner, marketing manager for Food and Specialty Packaging segment: Coextrusion films have not diminished; in fact, a lot of innovation has been developed for more layers and other adjustments. This innovation is enabled by lamination, which takes the coextrusion film structures and combines/laminates them together with either extrusion lamination or adhesive lamination. This brings increased properties and benefits, such as barriers and printing, to the flexible package.

 

Ecommerce is a growing market for packaging in general, as well as for flexible packages. What opportunities do you see here because of the different distribution method (that is, small parcel versus pallet-load shipping)?

Nathan Wiker, NA group marketing and global sustainability director, Packaging and Specialty Plastics: We anticipate a dramatic rise in protective packaging, along with opportunities for a tougher film that is still also sustainable.

Rigorous ecommerce shipping puts additional performance demands on protective packaging.

 

What’s the status of the Dow/DuPont merger, announced last December, and how will the expected changes further flexible packaging innovation?

Jarrod Erpelding, corporate media relations leader: Dow and DuPont remain focused on closing the transaction and continue to work constructively with regulatory agencies in all relevant jurisdictions. Given current regulatory agency status, merger closing would be expected to occur in the first quarter of 2017, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including receipt of all regulatory approvals. We expect the intended spin offs to occur about 18 months after closing.

About 18 months following the close of the merger, the parties intend to subsequently pursue a separation of DowDuPont into three independent, publicly traded companies through tax-efficient spin-offs.

The transaction is intended to create three highly focused, leading companies in Agriculture, Materials Science and Specialty Products with enhanced scale, unique growth strategies and differentiated technologies. Each of these strong, focused companies will be able to allocate capital more effectively, apply its powerful innovation more productively, and extend its value-added products and solutions to more customers worldwide.

 

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Learn about the latest developments in flexible packaging at PackEx Montreal 2016 (Nov. 30-Dec. 1, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada).

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