Home: February - March 2006 › Thinking outside the box
Thinking outside the box
31/03/2006 | Channel:
Packaging & Logistics
Ineos Polyolefins produces innovative, market-leading polymers for food packaging applications
With over 40 years experience, Ineos Polyolefins is a market leading producer of an
extensive range of polymers such as HDPE, L(L)DPE and PP, used for packaging
applications in the food industry. The company is an industry leader in the development of polymers with exceptional organoleptic qualities to preserve the taste and odour of food, and is a specialist in multi-layered milk bottle applications and beverage caps. Previously known as Innovene, the company now operates as part of Ineos, and markets its products under the successful brand name, Eltex.
"Ineos Polyolefins produces market leading polymers for the food packaging industry, that are used in applications such as bottles, plastic caps, and PP films," explains Pierre Lasson, sales director at Ineos Polyolefins. "We were acquired by Ineos in December 2005, and now, as Ineos Polyolefins, we have a very clear business and industry strategy. One of our specialities is the ability to propose the right solution to the market, in terms of which polymer is suited to a particular packaging application.
"One of the key factors in our success is that we strive to be involved in the total value chain of our customers," Pierre continues. "As a business we want to understand the whole chain in order to be a competitive partner, and have a good position within the entire industry. It is becoming increasingly important to consider the end-user of the packaging, and the quality of the polymer is directly linked to the quality of the final package. The final consumer is becoming increasingly interested in the design of the product, and in recent years we have noticed that the integration of the value chain is vital if you want to design the packaging of tomorrow."
Ineos Polyolefins believes that the importance of food contamination cannot be underestimated, and as such is the market leader in the production of packaging with superior organoleptic properties. The preservation of taste and odour is becoming increasingly critical in the food industry, particularly for mineral water and beverages, and the company’s Eltex brand of HDPE beverage caps polymers is regarded as a guarantee of excellence in preserving the organoleptic complexion of beverages.
"We put a great amount of effort into making sure our polyolefin grades for bottles are suitable, in terms of organolepticity, it is vital that our products must not give any odour or taste to what is inside the packaging," Pierre comments. "Of course there are European regulations to monitor this and we follow them. We always aim to go further because when a customer is creating food they invest a great deal in the flavour, taste and odour, as this is what attracts the consumer. It is possible that with an unappropriate plastic to change the taste of water or milk, so we have to ensure that we continue to address this."
Together with this, the company has had much success in the dairy industry with its
six-layer milk bottle introduced in 1996 and with its grades for beverage caps. The
company has been producing milk bottles since 1968, and today is considered as a
specialist in the market, producing HDPE products for cow milk, milk cream, vitamin added milk, yoghurt drinks, and soy milk: "The multi-layer bottle is an important design for the food industry," says Pierre. "One of the major advantages that it brings is that each individual layer of the product brings an unique property to the final bottle. For example, there is a layer that is designed to protect the liquid from oxygen penetration, and oxidisation. Together with this we have a black layer in our milk bottles that prevents certain types of light from touching the milk, and a white pigmented Eltex layer which is used to disguise the black layer from the consumer and to enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the product and the packaging. Between these are tie layers that hold the construction together, and ensure that the bottle remains aesthetically suitable."
As a company at the forefront of polymer technology, Ineos Polyolefins places much
emphasis on R&D: "We put a great deal of money into ensuring that we have continuous expertise and knowledge in our company, in terms of development," Pierre explains. "We have two complementary development approaches, in terms of actual products, we launch two or three each year. Developing a new concept takes a lot longer and involves many partners across the entire value chain, so a new concept will be introduced to the market every two or three years."
In its latest, market-leading development, the company has combined its exceptional
proprietary HDPE processing technology with outstanding organoleptics, and extremely high stress cracking resistance, to produce its new Eltex Superstress Cap
Grade of polymer. Designed for the next generation of beverage caps, they are
dedicated to HDPE closures for carbonated soft drinks, for demanding packaging
applications in hot countries in areas such as Southern Europe and the Middle East,
and for lighter closure designs. The products, regarded as a breakthrough in the
industry, offer at least three times higher environmental stress cracking resistance than the current Eltex range, and good process capabilities in injection and in compression moulding. The new range offers better behaviour under severe conditions of storage, particularly if bottles are exposed to elevated temperatures for long periods.
Another polymer, polypropylene, is also strongly present in food packaging
applications, where several Ineos polyolefins grades are considered as benchmarks especially in food packaging films.
Looking to the future, Pierre is extremely confident that polymer packaging offers
many exciting development and growth opportunities: "Plastics, compared to glass
and traditional materials, give many more advantages, including weight and safety,
and more development opportunities. The growth for polymers in packaging
applications is greater than the growth for the standard polymer market. The use of
plastics in packaging is an application that is going to continue to experience rapid
growth. The key area that I believe will develop further is the excellent design possibilities, plastics allow us to be very innovative regarding the shape of the packaging. Our key challenge is to ensure we have continuous polymer product
innovation, which is closely integrated to the developments in the packaging industry."