As oil price rise, company launches lower-cost polymer

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Polymer, Cost

In the face of steep increases in the price of oil-based packaging
continuing to rise, Ticona says it has developed a lower-cost grade
of polymer for food products.

Ticona, which has its European headquarters in Kelsterbach, Germany, said its cost-effective grade of Topas 8007F-100 cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) can be used as a blending component inpolyethylene-based packaging films.

Many polymer and plastic-based packaging companies have been raising prices in response to the increasing price of petroleum and natural gas, the base ingredients for their products. Petroleumprices have risen by about 30 per cent from a year ago, while the cost of natural gas has increased by between 16 per cent to 40 per cent depending on the region.

"With Topas 8007F-100, we are targeting cost-sensitive packaging applications using COC blended into polyethylene as a performance enhancer,"​ the company stated.

In most cases, COC is used as a minor component at a concentration of 10 to 20 per cent to customise overall film properties in applications such as pouches, forming webs and coated paper.

The copolymer adds stiffness to the polyethylene and allows it to be thermoformed to create flexible food packaging, blister packs, medical overwraps, pouches, forming webs and shrink films.

The copolymer also adds controlled tear, improved sealing and antiblock performance characteristics to the polyethylene. The 8007F-100 series provides the same basic properties as other Topasgrades at lower cost.

"Although its optical properties are not at the same ultimate level as other Topas packaging grades, they have proven satisfactory in many applications in which Topas 8007F-100 was blendedwith a wide range of polyolefins,"​ the company stated.

Topas 8007F-100 complies with US and EU food contact regulations. The amorphous plastic is also used in pharmaceutical blister packaging, injection-molded precision optics, medical and laboratorycontainers and toner binder resins for color laser printers. Ticona is the polymers business of US-based Celanese Corp.

Effective from 17 October, Ticona raised the prices of PET, PBT, blends and elastomers. The company said it was reacting to the sharp rise of raw materials prices on the world market within thepast few weeks, as well as the further shortage of its base products. Amongst other factors, the continuously high costs for fuel have also led to an increase in freight rates.

"Over the past few years, the price of some intermediates and raw materials has more than doubled, and just in recent months there has been yet another considerable increase. As aconsequence of the increasing prices of raw materials the costs for transport are also increasing globally,"​ the company stated.

This month Sweden-based paper company Ahlstrom became the latest food industry supplier to announce price increases for flexible packaging and label papers. The company said oil prices meant itwould have to raise prices at between five and 12 per cent no later than 1 December, depending on different products and regions.

Announcements by Danone, Kraft and Cadbury this much indicate how much the rise of packaging and energy costs is affecting food processors. While most big food groups, like Nestle and Danone,have managed to keep overall sales growing strongly in the first half of 2005, profit margins have slipped or are under pressure due to the steep rise in oil costs.

Danone this week released its sales figures for the first nine months of the year stating that it had a "severe hit" from input costs, mainly due to the price of plastic used forpackaging its products. The company said its overall operating margin in the first half was reduced by 0.75 per cent. In its beverages and Asian divisions higher input costs took a two per centbite out of margins.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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