Multi-phase Plastic may Usher ‘Smart’ Food and Drug Packaging

by Aaron L. Brody, ph. D.
Three-component plastic has quietly revolutionized pharmaceutical packaging.
Diabetics are familiar with their daily routine of opening unit-portion packages of blood glucose test strips to evaluate their blood sugar levels.
With multi-phase polymer technology from CSP Technologies, multiple test strips can come in a single container. This permits the patient to open the package, remove one strip and reseal the package.
By incorporating desiccant into large surface area package structures, the resulting material absorbs water vapor entering during the package opening and restores the contents to their original dry condition.
Consider how such a technology might benefit the quality retention in packages of low-moisture foods. These include instant coffee, beverage, soup and sauce mixes, salty snacks and other products.
Further, placement of active packaging components such as oxygen scavengers, anti-microbial emitters or odor absorbers in three-phase plastic could achieve “active” or “smart” packaging in the primary packaging rather than in a sachet.
By combining a channeling agent and an active material with the base polymer, you can modify the transport properties of the plastic. The channeling agent alters the physical characteristics of the plastic to accept the active packaging agent.
Interconnected solid pathways throughout the plastic allow controlled movement of gases in and out of the plastic.
The particles or active agents can:
- Absorb water vapor, gases, odors, etc.
- Release aromas, gases, nutrients, etc.
- Transmit by modifying the transport properties of the plastic.
Here are some commercial and potential applications of the three-phase polymer technology.
- Flip-top, “leak-proof” vials are injection-molded polyolefin with a friction-fit interior sleeve. The sleeve is three-phase polyolefin with channeling from polyethylene oxide and desiccant particulates adhered to the inner surface of the sleeve.
This structure maintains the moisture environment within the vial. When a user opens the package, removes a strip and snaps the package closed, the desiccant removes moisture that has entered by exposure to the external atmosphere and returns the internal package environment to a relative humidity condition to retain activity of the contained strips.
CSP Technologies’ trade name for this package is Activ-Vial.
- Dispensing systems for tablet and strip dispensers retain moisture during use life. One example is vials for
effervescent (carbon dioxide emitting) tablets.
- Aluminum foil packaging incorporates the three-phase system into the package interior.
- Films and labels that absorb moisture, oxygen or odors: DNA test strips and diagnostic strips patches.
This application of active-packaging compounds represents a major paradigm in packaging.
Multi-phase plastic carries active packaging to a new dimension by removing the barriers and making packaging and product interactive.
This set of technologies harbors the potential to alter the entire universe of content protection from its natural environment through packaging.
For more information on multi-phase polymer technology, contact CSP Technologies at 334.887.8300 or visit
The author, Aaron L. Brody, Ph.D., is President/CEO of Packaging/Brody Inc., a consultancy in food, packaging technology and marketing. Contact Dr. Brody at 770.613.0991 or