How are resin & raw material prices affecting the state of the industry?
Raw material prices have had a considerable affect on the state of the industry in terms of pricing, and it has implications along the entire value chain. For inks and adhesives used in flexible packaging, the impact is less than the film, but it is still considerably impacting raw material choices/selections. That being said, the megatrends driving conversion to flexible packaging still outweighs the raw material impacts. Additionally, the volatility of the prices has pushed innovation to look at alternate feedstock sources, improvements in manufacturing processes, and other approaches to reduce steps, layers and costs with a solution approach to packaging. These drivers are here to stay and have pushed the industry to be innovative in all parts of the packaging process.
Are you seeing new resin/raw material blends that are dropping off in popularity and use - if so, which ones? Are you noticing specific resin/raw materials that are becoming more in demand?
As a general statement, we can see the popularity of “safe” raw material/resin systems. For the past few years, we have continued to see the move from solvent to low/no VOC systems. Additionally, demand is building for raw materials and resins systems with low migration and low odor. As a specialty chemical company, we have a responsibility to be aware of not only our customers, the ink and adhesives formulators, but also of the needs of the end users and consumers. We understand how important consumer perceptions are to the food packaging industry. Sartomer has been actively working with our customers and the industry developing products that will comply with specifications like the FDA, the Nestlé Spec and the Swiss Ordinance. Our global customers have been clear that they only want to evaluate new raw materials/resins that can be registered globally.
How can a converter maximize their resin/raw materials? (i.e. using reclamation services, ensure a great film in the first place, etc?)
Sartomer, USA, LLC, recently polled the converter community to ask them how frequently they discussed key issues with brand owners. For the overall community polled, productivity gains and VOC reductions were the areas that converters had the most dialogue with brand owners. VOC reductions were more of an issue for the smaller converters while larger converters were more interested in productivity gains. Reduced waste was also mentioned as a key area for the converter community. For Sartomer, this was an interesting result because using UV/EB technology can help the converter achieve all of these initiatives. One-hundred percent solids UV/EB inks and OPVs give the productivity gains and reduced waste not achievable with solvent-based systems. Also, they have no to low VOC. Further in the survey, it became evident that educating converters on the benefits of UV/EB resins versus solvent and water-based systems was a critical component to understanding how converters can achieve their internal goals and satisfy the brand owners’ requirements. For converters that currently use UV/EB to cure their packaging systems, improved performance was most often mentioned as the major benefit of UV/EB. Education of converters was mentioned as the major way to have greater adoption of UV/EB. Additionally, as part of Arkema, Sartomer has an intimate understanding of films that are used in the flexible packaging industry. This provides us with the benefits of developing new resins/raw materials for inks and adhesives to keep pace with the developments in the film industry. This is particularly true for innovations in the areas of bio-based materials, compostable films, reduced layers and oxygen/moisture barriers. Sartomer, USA, LLC (610) 363-4100; www.sartomer.com