TC Transcontinental Packaging introduced its ASTRA Center, the Art, Science and Technology Research and Applications Center, based in Menasha, WI. This 12,200 square-foot facility is reportedly a key enabler for the company to innovate and identify sustainable solutions for its customers.

“Over the past years, we have aligned our investments and strategy to meet our customers objectives and goals," says Alex Hayden, senior VP, R&D, Innovation and Sustainability. "The ASTRA Center is at the core of our operations to drive growth and innovation and be the sustainability partner to our customers. The many tests, instruments and technology available to us provide enhanced product development knowledge through the entire process of flexible plastic packaging design, allowing the development of innovative films for sustainability, e-commerce, and more.”

With four different state-of-the-art R&D labs and a team of sustainability gurus, brand owners and retailers can reportedly benefit from a deep expertise in compostable, recyclable and recycled content packaging, increased speed to market from concept to commercialization, optimized solutions for performance and cost and turnkey packaging solutions. 

The Analytical and Testing Services Lab performs physical testing to simulate real life use of the package from filling to transportation and distribution. It also measures shelf life and consumer end use with analytical testing to develop molecular structures that meet the packaging functionality requirements throughout its entire life cycle.

The Applications and Packaging Development Lab is a dedicated lab equipped with a 9-layer blown extrusion line which allows designed experiments and optimization of film formulations. The lab also includes FFS machinery to perform production-scale customer prototypes. This FFS testing is designed to gain insights on how films will perform, avoid any surprises on customers’ equipment and ensure packaging performance and efficiency once the development stage is completed. 

The Advanced Compost Lab is the first of its kind within a packaging manufacturer and is fully integrated with the R&D team’s expertise and knowledge to develop the next generation of packaging and improve the turnaround time and cost for certifying compostable packaging. The lab is accredited, under independent auditing, to conform to ISO 17025 and is equipped to test and meet ASTM 6400 standards for compostable packaging.

The Recycling Technology Lab, expected to be fully operational in 2022, will complete the R&D suite of expertise with an in-house recyclability assessment lab. The lab will measure each aspect of a package designed for industry accepted criteria, to ensure that it is truly recycling compatible, per the design guidelines available in the industry. The lab will include an extruder, a recycled plastic pelletizer, and will allow the team to analyze post-consumer resin, waste source and gel count for better results and package performance.  

In addition, the ASTRA Center is key to TC Transcontinental Packaging’s sustainability agenda to deliver on its 2025 commitment to have 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable and achieve a 10% use of PCR on average by weight across its plastic portfolio. 

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