Yparex B.V. announced that it is the first supplier in the packaging industry to develop and commercialize an adhesive tie layer for multilayer packaging films that is bio-based (i.e. produced from plant- rather than petroleum-based raw materials). Since this tie-layer resin is derived from 95% annually renewable resources and is fully recyclable, yet meets the same performance specifications as non-renewable petroleum-based polymer of the same family, it offers packaging manufacturers the opportunity to make their products more sustainable because plant precursors sequestered greenhouse gases during their life cycle. However, it also helps protect the packaging industry’s supply chain from price spikes of materials closely tied to the cost of oil and natural gas.
There is currently significant debate about which direction the packaging industry should and ultimately will take to become more environmentally friendly, with many different initiatives being proposed. Producers are consistently designing thinner and lighter packaging that does more (offers higher functionality) while using less material; suppliers have found ways to source more environmentally benign raw materials; and still other companies have started numerous recycling initiatives to reduce post-consumer waste. As consumers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have increased pressure on the packaging industry to reduce its environmental impact, the packaging industry has naturally turned to its supply base and asked for help.
“There’s a lot of disagreement about how best to make the packaging industry more sustainable,” notes Wouter van den Berg, general manager, Yparex B.V. “ Some argue for glass, since it’s insert and recyclable. Others say paper is better, as it’s made of materials that grow back. Still others say lightweight plastics are greenest because they save significant transportation costs and energy, while increasing safety (since they’re unbreakable), and extending shelf life (reducing waste). Given the incredible size of the packaging industry, and the breadth of products involved—from food and beverages to car parts to industrial maintenance supplies and consumer electronics—I don’t believe there will be one easy answer that solves the sustainability question or a single approach that addresses the needs of all the segments that are involved. As an industry, we need to develop many parallel initiatives to help move packaging to the next level of sustainability. And as a producer of adhesive tie resins, Yparex management decided that the best way we could contribute was by formulating the greenest tie resin we could make.“ Yparex’s response was to develop a bio-based version of the company’s popular Yparex® brand adhesive tie-layer resin for multilayer barrier-packaging producers. Adhesive tie layers are special polymers used in very-popular multilayer films that bond together dissimilar resins that otherwise would not adhere to each other. Such films are then used in rigid or flexible barrier-packaging structures that prevent passage of oxygen into the package (causing spoilage or contamination) and keep flavor and odors from leaving the package (leading to prematurely stale products), extending the shelf life for meat, cheese, and other perishable foods. The new extrusion grade is suitable for blown or cast multilayer film structures that use common barrier resins like polyamide (PA, also called nylon) and ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). The new polymer is the first of what the company hopes will become a growing family of bio-based “green” tie layer grades. Since the plant-based resin behaves exactly as the same grade of petroleum-derived resin does, it is a perfect drop in solution for packaging manufacturers looking to lower their carbon footprint and offer their customers a more sustainable product. Adds Van den Berg, “We are shipping our first lot of green Yparex Renew™ resin to an innovative film producer this month for evaluation. We hope the packaging industry responds favorably to this sustainable product offering and, if it does, we promise this will be the first of many more “green” innovations coming from our company.”