Milliken & Company( announces that continued, rapid advances in its Millad® NX™ 8000 clarifying technology - supported by positive market trends – are expanding the use of ultra-clear polypropylene (PP) as the material of choice in thermoformed food and beverage packaging vs. traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polystyrene (PS). Ultra-clear PP enabled by the MilladNX 8000 technology provides exceptional high-performance in thermoformed applications as a significantly lighter, less expensive, highly recyclable and more environmentally responsible solution than PET and PS for the demanding food and beverage packaging sector.

According to a report from the Freedonia Group, a global market research firm, “Demand for polypropylene is expected to outpace overall container resin demand growth through 2016 due to the material’s numerous advantages, as well as the continued development of polypropylene grades with improved clarity, making the resin more competitive with PET.” This growth will be amplified by the increased abundance of shale gas and the propane dehydrogenation units (PDH) announced in North America coming inline during 2015-2016, leading to PP pricing stability and abundance.

“The confluence of several factors is driving the increased use of clarified PP - instead of PET and PS – in food and beverage packaging thermoformed applications,” says Cristina Acevedo, global product line manager for Millad, Plastics Additives at Milliken & Company. “Our Millad NX 8000 clarifier allows packaging manufacturers to take advantage of PP’s cost-effectiveness, high performance, microwavability, lower density and recyclability without compromising on exceptional aesthetics. Ultra-clear, thermoformed PP represents the next wave of material technology for the packaging industry.”

Cost Benefits are Just the Beginning

In addition to PP’s cost benefits, the material’s performance properties offer additional savings for manufacturers that have prompted its expanding use. The lower density of PP reduces the weight of a thermoformed PET part, allowing less material to be used for containers. For example, 0.30 mm thermoformed container lids made with clarified PP weigh 17% less than 0.20 mm lids made with PET, enabling 46 more PP lids to be produced from a single kilogram of resin.

The use of Milliken’s Millad NX 8000 additive enhances PP with exceptional aesthetics, including revolutionary clarity approaching the transparency of amorphous materials and a bright appearancecompared to the dull, yellowish look that can occur with traditional clarifiers. Together, these characteristics convey high quality and increase shelf appeal. From a performance standpoint, using clarified PP for food trays and container bases provides enhanced compatibility with the PP films commonly used for sealing these applications. Compared to using a mix of materials – for example, a PET tray and film seal made from PP - the consistency of virgin PP promotes seal integrity and facilitates easy film removal without tearing.

Polypropylene materials clarified with Millad NX 8000 additive also promote sustainability. Polypropylene is not only fully recyclable but also environmentally responsible. First, PP consumes the least amount of energy during production compared to other plastic materials. Second, PP has the highest recovery of energy released during its combustion. It also has the lowest density and produces the lowest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when compared to other commonly used transparent plastics in food and beverage packaging like PET and PS.

 Millad NX 8000 additive is Milliken's fourth-generation clarifying agent. It helps create a PP product without the limitations of less-functional clear materials. Milliken’s Millad NX 8000 clarifier can be effectively used in virtually all processing methods, including injection molding, blow molding and thermoforming, and it is available globally from Milliken in both masterbatch and powder forms.