Spartanburg, S.C. – As restrictions on the use of polystyrene (PS) proliferate across the United States, food processors, supermarkets and restaurant operators are looking for alternative materials for their containers, clamshells and trays. NX UltraClear Polypropylene (PP), a low-density, easily recycled material featuring advanced clarification technology from Milliken & Company, is becoming more attractive to customers seeking greater sustainability in food packaging. Compared to paper and compostables, it offers greater usability, including see-through clarity for improved food order accuracy; impact resistance to prevent leakage; and the ability to be microwaved. NX UltraClear PP also appeals to consumers who equate clarity with cleanliness and purity and perceive the contents of clear packaging as wholesome and of high quality.
Many packaging manufacturers have already adopted PP to take advantage of the material’s important benefits and stay ahead of changing regulations. New York City is the latest to explore an expanded polystyrene (EPS) ban, joining other major cities including Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and Miami Beach, which have enacted various regulations regarding the material.
“As more states, cities and towns nationwide take action to restrict certain food packaging materials, manufacturers and brand owners face a dilemma,” said Emily Blair, business development manager, Milliken & Company. “At Milliken, we believe that our technology offers customers the perfect opportunity to reimagine their packaging with greater sustainability, improved ease of use and superior aesthetics. Adopting NX UltraClear PP can accomplish far more than simply addressing material restrictions. Our solution can add significant value to the consumer experience and increase brand differentiation compared to competitors.”
Top Benefits of NX UltraClear PP
NX UltraClear PP is the material of choice for food packaging for the following reasons:
- Enhanced sustainability: NX UltraClear PP supports sustainability efforts in two major ways. First, it is easily recycled in existing municipal systems. PP is one of three plastics (together with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE)) that are most commonly recovered by curbside recycling. Although paper-based packaging and compostable materials have been suggested as PS replacements, both pose environmental challenges. Paper itself is recyclable, but most cups used for foodservice purposes are coated with wax or PE so they can hold liquids. These coatings often prevent paper containers from being recycled. Compostable materials such as bio-based plastics only fulfill their sustainability promise if they are sent to composting facilities. The second environmental benefit of NX UltraClear PP is its low density, which means less plastic is needed to produce an equivalent quantity of packaging. Lower density helps conserve raw materials and reduce fuel consumption and emissions during shipping. Polypropylene is 30 percent less dense than PET and 13 percent less dense than non-foamed PS.
- Improved usability: Unlike opaque materials such as EPS and paper, NX UltraClear PP provides visibility into the contents of the container. See-through packaging, which makes it faster and easier to verify order accuracy, is a major asset for food takeout operations in restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets. Also, consumers equate clarity with purity and cleanliness. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Clear packaging gives products an aura of being natural, something that more shoppers are increasingly seeking.1
Another usability benefit of NX UltraClear PP is its exceptional performance. When using film for applications such as meat and prepared foods packaging, sealability of the container is crucial. NX UltraClear PP provides ease of sealing by allowing the flange on a part to be reduced. It also helps achieve better seal integrity without contamination from multiple materials. Further, NX UltraClear PP allows food to be microwaved in the package, avoiding the need to transfer it to another container and offering the consumer the benefits of reusability.
Milliken is an innovation company that has been exploring, discovering, and creating ways to enhance people’s lives since 1865. Working from our laboratories, application and development centers around the world, our scientists and engineers create coatings, specialty chemicals, and advanced additive and colorant technologies that transform the way we experience products from automotive plastics to children’s art supplies. With expertise across a breadth of disciplines that also includes floor covering and performance materials, the people of Milliken work every day to add true value to people’s lives, improve health and safety, and make this world more sustainable. For more information, visit www.millikenchemical.com or www.milliken.com.
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NX and the Milliken logo are trademarks of Milliken & Company.
Sarah Nassauer. See-Through Food Packaging Boosts Sales. The Wall Street Journal. August 13, 2014.