Innovation in agrochemical plastic packaging
Agrochemical products are nowadays essential for the crop protection, being necessary to protect them from the continuous pests and diseases.
The legislative proposals of recent years, establishing limits to the use of certain agrochemicals, have forced companies in the sector to gradually renew themselves, to develop new formulations, and to find new packaging for their formula.
The challenge, when combining agrochemicals with safe and resistant plastic packaging, has forced the manufacturing companies to find new solutions for agrochemical plastic packaging. These packaging has evolved to solve the main practical, physical, and environmental problems of traditional agrochemical plastic packaging.
WHY IS INNOVATION NEEDED IN AGROCHEMICAL PLASTIC PACKAGING?
Agrochemical packaging faces several problems that have forced companies in the plastics sector to innovate in this field. These problems have to do with both, the impact of agrochemicals on the environment, and the reactions that occur from the interaction between the formulations of agrochemicals and their plastic packaging.
But it is not only reactions with agrochemicals that affect plastic packaging. Altitude, pressure, temperature changes or errors in filling processes can also cause panelling and to collapse, swell, sink or ultimately deform and deteriorate the plastic container.
Single-layer packaging made from HDPE provides adequate protection to moisture and weather conditions in general for bio stimulants and organic fertilizers, but do not have sufficient resistance to gases generated by the most aggressive formulations of pesticides and insecticides, even using high weights. On the other hand, the use of PET in the packaging used in this sector is offered as a second-level material because it does not offer sufficient guarantees to keep the packaging intact throughout its life cycle by containing products of high toxicity. A specific design should be developed whose mechanical behaviour support the polymer.
In this respect, the final consumer of the packaged product has much to say. End consumers themselves may choose one brand or another because of poor usability of the packaging or bad experience with lousy packaging, the characteristics of which lead the final consumer to believe that the agrochemical inside is altered or manipulated.
Although barrier packaging is the most suitable and compatible with the gases generated by agrochemicals within them, not all are appropriate in the context of circular economy described in the EU Plastics Strategy, as some multilayer packaging may present difficulties in the delaminating process, recycling problems or simply their cost is so high that it makes their use unworkable.
TENDENCIES AND INNOVATION IN PLASTIC PACKAGING
The need of a safe agrochemical plastic packaging has led companies in the sector to evolve and propose new solutions. One of these solutions are the different types of barrier packaging, as mentioned above.
The barrier containers of multilayer structures, manufactured by coextrusion blow moulding, have materials that, combined with the other layers, provide barrier properties to ensure that a plastic container can cope with all the conditions to which it is exposed (humidity, gases, pressure, etc.),. These materials provide resistance to aggressive chemicals, solvent waterproofness, high temperature resistance and protection against ultraviolet rays and steam and oxygen permeation, preventing packaging from deteriorating or affecting the agrochemicals they contain.
But at ALCION we go further in our innovative trajectory betting on sustainability. We have implemented the most innovative of all the technologies currently available, plasma fluorination, getting safer and more sustainable barrier packaging. Plasma Fluorination improves the direct fluorination process, already used for decades in the industry.
The coextrusion blow moulding technology used in ALCION allows to create a multilayer plastic container in which, one of the layers has barrier properties. Plasma fluorination is able to convert a single-layer HDPE container into a container with barrier properties, using plasma to speed up the coating process of the container’s surface.
This new technology also solves one of the main problems of agrochemical packaging today: sustainability.
Plasma fluorination technology breaks current agrochemical packaging standards by being environmentally friendly throughout the packaging creation process.
At ALCION PACKAGING SOLUTIONS, quality, safety, and sustainability are the keys to developing the agrochemical plastic packaging sector being committed to our customers and to the future. Through the evolution of these new technologies, we have been able to respond to the main deficiencies of traditional agrochemical plastic packaging, without being indifferent to today’s environmental problems.