ExxonMobil: Innovative Polyethylene new products and solution unlock opportunities in flexible packaging
At CHINAPLAS 2019, ExxonMobil launched two new products as well as full PE laminated solution for flexible packaging.
What are the advancements of the two new products? Why is a full PE laminated solution? What does it mean for the packaging industry?
Olivier Lorge, Global PE Market Development Manager and Nicolas Coute, Global PE Product Technology Manager shared their insights with China Plastic and Rubber Journal during CHINAPLAS 2019.
CPRJ: At CHINAPLAS 2019, ExxonMobil launched two new performance polyethylene (PE) -products (Exceed™ 2012MA and Exceed™ 0015XC), what are the attributes for these two products?
Olivier Lorge: The new Exceed™ 2012MA performance PE polymer delivers outstanding sealing and extrusion performance for high-integrity flexible packaging films. It can enable reduced energy use, lower per unit packaging costs, and less packaging material and food waste.
Exceed™ 0015XC performance PE polymer is targeting for high-quality coating layers used in laminates. It delivers excellent sealing performance, -broad hot-tack window and good processing. It is ideal for drink cartons, paper cups, lamitubes, flexible packaging, tarpaulins and raffia coating and also provides opportunities for downgauging.
CPRJ: Have these two products been applied in China? What is the feedback from the China market?
Nicolas Coute: Actually, these two products were developed based on our Chinese customers’ voice. The Chinese plastic converters came across some extrusion issue when they used Exceed™ 1012. They came to us and their feedback was seriously taken care of by our global technology experts. Thanks to the cooperation with our customers, we have these two new products commercialized in a short time.
China is driving the technology innovation. That is why we keep investing our Shanghai Technology Center (STC). The STC, started in 2011, now has more than 400 employees. We have a big 7-layer cast film line set up last year and another 5-layer commercial film blown line being set up this year. We continue to use this site for the region to develop new solutions for China and Asia.
Food primary packaging is one of focus for STC; we are looking for solutions with different levels of oxygen-barriers that can customers to phase out some of the PA solutions which are not recyclable.
CPRJ: ExxonMobil also launched a full PE laminated solution at CHINAPLAS 2019, why is a full PE laminated solution?
Olivier Lorge: As we know, a great number of flexible packaging comprises a mix of PET, PA, EVOH or OPP and they are not easy for recycling due to difficulties separating the materials.
But a new full PE laminated solution can be recycled with PE film where programs to collect plastic films exists, while delivering the toughness, optical properties and stiffness needed for high-quality packaging, plus material selection is simplified.
It is a trend for flexible packaging to take a full PE laminated solution. Our new full PE laminated packaging solutions, containing Exceed™ XP – when eXtreme Performance matters, Exceed™ and Enable™ performance PE polymers, will help overcome the recycling issues typically associated with conventional laminated structures.
The full PE laminated solutions offer gloss, clarity, printability and easy processing for convertors. It will give the stiffness to hold the content and have a good shelf appearance. Shelf appearance is very important in Asia. People like the glossary packaging and they like to see the content inside.
It is not only used for food packaging, but also for lamitube, shampoo, cosmetic packaging that contain PE/PET structures.
These full PE laminated packaging can be collected and reused in applications that are not food sensitive.
CPRJ: Talking about recycling, a great number of brand owners have announced their 2025 sustainable plan, targeting to increase the recycled plastic contents in packaging. Will ExxonMobil offer recycled plastic solutions?
Olivier Lorge: It depends on packaging applications. It would be complicated for food packaging. We need to consider the safety issue when food has a direct contact with recycled plastic. We have started some application developments with brand owners. For example, we are working with CoCo-Cola for the R & D of collation shrink film, which will offer 30%-50% recycled plastic in the wrapping film.
We are also working with convertors to increase the recycled content in agriculture applications, for example, a 50% recycled content in agriculture covers and geo membranes.
But our customers are always smart and innovative. They have their own ways to make recycling with our products. One customer in New Zealand collected HDPE milk bottles combining with our ExceedTM products to make trash bins. We never thought of it, but now that it is people in the market finding new ideas how to use our product to improve the recyclability and output.
CPRJ: Are all the ExxonMobil products produced in the United States and imported to China? Will the US-China tariffs affect your business in China?
Olivier Lorge: 80% of the product supply for Asia market is produced by our Singapore complex that has a 1.9 million tons capacity of Polyethylene. We’re considering to build another complex in Daya Bay, Huizhou, Guangdong Province. US is not the primary supply for China.