The BPA battle has been raging for some years now, and the clash took a new turn last month after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that a multi-year research programme confirmed bisphenol A as safe for consumers at proscribed exposure levels. The report was issued by the National Toxicological Program (NTP) after a five-year study by scientists at the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research.

The FDA’s statement prompted a response from the Endocrine Society, which said it was disappointed and that the FDA statement was ‘premature’. The Society said it was too early to assert the results of a pre-peer review draft report, adding that only one component has been released of a two-part report.

While BPA is not a major issue anyway in modern-day plastics packaging, as polycarbonate has been replaced in many applications, the use of recycled content continues to be a big discussion point at present. Nestlé Pure Life has launched a 100 per cent food-grade recycled 70cl PET bottle in the North American market, in what the company calls a representation of its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

The company recently claimed that it has reduced the PET plastics in its Pure Life 50cl bottles by 40 per cent since 2005. This latest launch complements the company’s initiative to add ‘How2Recycle’ information on its labels.

While recycling continues on the right track, so too do bioplastics after the European Council and Parliament reached provisional agreements on the EU waste legislative package recognising their benefits. The legislation acknowledges that bio-based feedstock for plastics packaging as well as compostable plastics for separate bio-waste collection contribute to more efficient waste management and help to reduce the impacts of plastics packaging on the environment.

UK-based Biome Bioplastics welcomed the recognition of the role of bioplastics with chief executive Paul Mines calling on the UK government to also acknowledge the vital role that bioplastics can play in tackling Britain’s plastics waste problem, particularly for consumer single-use packaging.

Still in the UK, Tower Growth Management acquired thermoformer Visual Packaging (VP), a producer of bespoke packaging for food, medical and cosmetics markets.

Other mergers and acquisitions this month were focused on the Americas and Europe. Label producer CCL Industries has agreed to buy Treofan Americas and Tresphaphan Mexico Holdings for $255 million, while Leonard Green & Partners has purchased packaging machinery provider ProMach for an undisclosed sum.

US-based MaschioPack is to be acquired by Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) maker Mauser, and Pregis has bought protective packaging manufacturer Rex Performance Products, again for an undisclosed amount.

In Europe, Dutch converter Weener Plastics Group has acquired bottle maker Artpack in Russia, and flexible packaging supplier Schur Flexibles Group (SF) has entered into exclusive negotiations with the French family-owned company UNI Packaging regarding a potential acquisition. UNI Packaging would complement Schur’s existing European footprint.

The biggest deal of the month is the decision by petrochemical giant LyondellBasell Industries to purchase the plastics compounding specialist A. Schulman for $2.25 billion. Synergies of around $150m a year are expected within the next two years.

On the expansion front, UK converter The Wilkins Group is to double the size of its headquarters in Nottingham so that it can satisfy increased demand for its products. The family-run business manufactures retail packaging for markets such as food, textiles, confectionery and household products.

Going one better, Somic America is tripling the amount of space it operates from by relocating its North American headquarters from Illinois to Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Spanish firm Poligal, which makes BOPP and CPP film, has started production at its Polish plant in Skarbimierz. The company has installed a 5-layer BOPP line with a production capacity of 40,000 tonnes a year.

On the subject of building, Kuraray’s MonoSol is investing $72m in the construction of a 150,000 sq ft water-soluble film manufacturing facility in Indiana (USA) with the potential to create 89 jobs by 2020, and GualapackGroup has continued its expansion in Latin America with the opening of a facility close to Chile’s capital Santiago that will be dedicated to the production of spouted and unspouted pouches.

 

And finally…

Canadian health supplements provider Iovate is integrating Thinfilm’s Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile marketing technology on four of its product lines – including whey protein and nutritional brand products – so that it can engage more with consumers through e-commerce.

Using NFC SpeedTap tags, consumers use a smartphone to access services such as recipes, videos, how-to instructions and instant product re-ordering. Thinfilm has secured an all-star line-up of sponsor athletes for the video, including baseball player Giancarlo Stanton and soccer player Tobin Heath. Whey to go!

Steven Pacitti