Plasma Fluorination, the revolution of the plastic packaging manufacturing industry
Plastic, this new material that was developed exponentially throughout the 20th century for its exceptional characteristics of durability, ease of handling, good strength and lower cost to replace materials that were beginning to be scarce, finds in a prosperous society the perfect vehicle for its evolution and use in unimaginable areas up until then: automotive parts, pens, bags , bottles, containers and containers, DIY tools and parts, planters, toys, household and utensil items, eyeglass frames, industrial parts, coatings and pipes, shoes, kits, catheters, prostheses, rhinoplasties, therapeutic probes, raincoats, discs and CDs…
Over the past few years, the idea that plastic must disappear from our daily lives has been growing. The huge amount of plastics that end up in the environment every day, polluting land, seas and rivers, has shaken our consciences, mobilizing society and has caused rivers of ink to flow.
However, facing this “anti-plastic” movement, another movement has emerged that calls for “Don’t blame the plastic”. Under this slogan it is intended to inform the population, not only about the infinite benefits that plastic has brought and brings to our today’s society, but also about its proper use and recycling to prevent it from polluting the environment without having to do without it.
Thanks to plastics, many of the essential sectors in our current society, such as health or automotive, have been able to evolve using a material that provides a reduction in CO2 emissions, fuel savings in the transport of the products manufactured with it as well as consumption of raw materials and that also achieves a reduction of 35% of the food discarded thanks to its applications in the packaging of food products, for instance.
Plastic is one of the most recycled materials in the world, and even when it is no longer possible to recycle it and becomes waste, alternatives are studied to value this waste with the aim of contributing to a circular economy. Not polluting the environment depends on everyone: the end user making good use and recycling of the products consumed, and the industry, working in ecodesign and trying to find viable alternatives to manufacture eco-sustainable products.
Plasma fluorination, the sustainable response
Some aggressive chemicals generate gases inside the plastic container, so that the container must have exceptional characteristics such as certain barrier properties, so as not to get deformed or deteriorated.
One of the most widely used technologies throughout the 20th century to achieve these barrier properties has been multilayer coextrusion, although today it may show certain disadvantages in terms of its recyclability when mixing different materials in its composition. Packaging manufactured by multilayer coextrusion requires a specific type of recycling as it is not possible to recycle them following the recovery-separation-classification chain – grinding – washing – recycling way.
Chemical recycling, although a priori of high cost at the moment, has on the other hand a positive aspect taking into account that these containers are not accumulated in landfills. They are controlled and that does not become waste but a new resource.
But the plastics processing industry has continued to evolve to simplify and offer new alternatives by developing and improving existing technologies in order to offer a new technology, plasma fluorination.
With plasma fluorination, it is possible to provide barrier properties to a single material plastic container (HDPE), so it can be used as a packaging of chemicals, such as agrochemicals, giving greater resistance to contact with such products, temperature and pressure changes and avoiding the permeation of water vapour and oxygen.
All this, making the packaging remain 100% recyclable and with an environmentally friendly manufacturing process.
Plasma Fluorination combines the advantages of recycling that HDPE monomaterial packaging has with those of containers with barrier properties that, although essential for certain products, pose new challenges for recycling.
Adapting the plastics industry
Plasma fluorination technology applied to the manufacture of plastic packaging is novel and innovative.
At Alcion Packaging Solutions we have decided to implement this new plasma fluorination technology in our production plant in Aldaia (Valencia) to provide a sustainable alternative to the industry, and to achieve stronger packaging for the most demanding sectors of the market: agrochemical and industrial.
We have extensive experience in innovation and development of new technologies supported by our R+D+I department. Our 75-years’ experience supports our commitment to society and industry to which we also provide customized solutions to develop any type of plastic packaging for any activity.