At Pharmapack Europe 2020 and MD&M West 2020, Clariant experts talked about the scope of the plastic waste problem, how the healthcare industry can confront the challenge, and the ways the company is helping its customers be more environmentally responsible while remaining compliant and commercially successful.
“Healthcare accounts for only about 5 % of all plastics consumed, and the volume of waste derived from healthcare devices and packaging is relatively small compared to other sources. Nevertheless, it still becomes a topic of importance to medical device and pharmaceutical packaging companies,” explained Steve Duckworth, Global Head of Marketing & Business Development for Healthcare Polymer Solutions.
Regulations governing the use of plastics in healthcare applications dictate that materials must be well-characterised and consistent to ensure patient safety, and this limits the sustainability options available, said Duckworth. “We must try to be pragmatic, even when it comes to an understandably ‘hot topic’ across the plastics industry. However I believe the Mevopur portfolio of medical-grade products and services includes some solutions that can allow healthcare companies to take steps in a ‘green’ direction without compromising their primary mission.” He pointed to several specific initiatives:
- Reducing material consumption via lightweighting: Taking advantage of its Hydrocerol chemical-foaming agents, Clariant is helping reduce the amount of plastics used in devices and packaging, while also saving energy during processing. The active ingredients are considered food contact safe and could be used in healthcare applications with little adaptation needed.
- Reducing material consumption via thin-walling: Mevopur nucleation technology uses USP/EP-tested additives to control crystallinity of certain grades of polyolefins, so that wall thickness can be reduced without compromising top-load properties. Thinner-wall sections can also result in faster cooling times and lower energy costs. A new Mevopur HDPE compound offers a 30 – 40 % greater resistance to moisture vapour transmission, thereby compensating for any loss in moisture barrier performance due to thin-walling.
- Medical-grade non-oil-based polyolefins: More than 65 % of pharmaceutical packaging involves the use of polyethylene (PE), and other polyolefin resins are commonly used in medical devices too. Clariant introduced Mevopur bio-based materials – resins that are chemically identical to conventional polymers but made from non-oil-based feedstocks for reduced levels of CO2 per kilogram. Available in the form of colour and additive masterbatches or ready-to-use compounds, they come with a full regulatory package including USP 661.1, EP 3.1, ISO 10993 and ICHQ3D certification.
- Supporting recycling collaboration: By the end of Q3 2020, Clariant will have installed a recycling mini-plant at its Project House facilities in Pogliano, Italy to create the company’s EcoCircle centre of excellence. It will have all the equipment needed to reclaim and reprocess scrap bottles, film and other forms of plastic waste. The centre will bring all of Clariant’s polymer know-how to bear on the problem, forge partnerships along the value chain to develop sustainable solutions, and develop experts in the recycling and bioplastics areas who can consult with customers, said the company.