In sectors such as industrial or agrochemical, barrier plastic packaging is a must for products to be distributed safely, without posing any health risk and keeping the product intact until its use.

Choosing the most suitable packaging for a product is not only  a matter of thinking about its use, transport and appearance. The characteristics that a container must have are conditioned by those of the product it contains and its way of reacting when coming into contact with it.

This factor is even more important when we talk about chemicals and industrial products, among others, that are more aggressive and that can further deteriorate packaging. It is in these cases where barrier plastic packaging  can become the protagonist, since these  are  containers with all the barrier properties necessary to contain the product in perfect condition, retain all its characteristics and, most difficultly,  do not deteriorate during its storage, transport and distribution. But what exactly does barrier packaging have that makes it one of the most adequate solutions to pack aggressive products?

What is barrier plastic packaging?

Barrier plastic containers, manufactured by co-extrusion, consist of several layers of plastic materials, which provide sufficient strength to contain aggressive products that would deteriorate and deform any other type of packaging.

This is why barrier plastic packaging is one    of  the great solutions to preserve and transport chemical products in the safest way. The chemical formulations emit gases that can bloat or collapse a plastic container, so that, not any type of plastic packaging would be adequate in these cases.

Barrier plastic containers made by blown coextrusion combine materials with different properties to achieve protection that would be unworkable with other mono-layer containers.

Until now, multilayer coextrusion had been one of the worldwide used technology to manufacture barrier packaging, from now, in  Alcion  Packaging  Solutions we  have already incorporated into our manufacturing process a new technology, plasma fluorination,  being the most sustainable option that provides  barrier properties  to  100% recyclable HDPE packaging.

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Key features of barrier packaging

Barrier plastic packaging is the perfect choice to pack chemicals and industrial products because of their ability to protect from light, moisture, oxygen and temperature changes, the main physical factors that can affect both the product and the packaging itself and alter its properties and characteristics.

In addition to preventing packaging from deteriorating by shock or from possible reactions to external agents, barrier plastic containers must  also protect them from oxidation, degradation of their components and, ultimately, from any factors that can chemically alter them  as well as from the internal reactions  of the formulation itself.

Thanks to barrier plastic packaging, it is possible to prolong chemicals shelf life, that is, keeping all their characteristics intact for as long as possible until the expiration of the product indicated by the formulator or packer. This shelf life depends to a large extent on factors such as container permeation, as the presence of oxygen, water vapour or carbon dioxide can alter the composition of products and impair them.

Barrier plastic packaging may be different, and the products for which they are used, too. Depending on the characteristics of each product, packaging may be needed  to  act as a barrier against some factors or others.

Trends in the use of barrier packaging

One of the main trends in barrier packaging research and innovation is to find solutions to make these packaging using the fewest different materials, resulting in a relatively homogeneous packaging that allows easier recycling and easier and less expensive production.

To achieve this, research focuses on the development of new raw materials with barrier properties that can be recycled, new technologies to improve the technical characteristics of packaging and the refinement of existing barrier packaging by trying to follow a more sustainable line with recyclable or biodegradable materials.

What does seem clear is that sustainability is the main tendency to follow for all companies that use and need barrier plastic packaging in their activity, and is that barrier packaging is no longer expected only protection and resistance, but also that they are recyclable or biodegradable and that favor the circular economy both throughout its life process.

Barrier plastic packaging is considered one of the best options for sectors such as industrial, chemical, cosmetic,  dermocosmetic, agrochemical, etc., and at Alcion  Packaging  Solutions  we have the best technologies to produce barrier packaging following the latest   trends. We know that sustainability is one of the great concerns of any company today, and producing  100% recyclable barrier packaging and through a totally  environmentally friendly process  is  already a reality for us thanks to plasma fluorination.

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Plastic, this new material that was developed exponentially throughout the 20th century for its exceptional characteristics of durability, ease of handling, good strength and lower cost to replace materials that were beginning to be scarce, finds in a prosperous society the perfect vehicle for its evolution and use in unimaginable areas up until then: automotive parts, pens, bags , bottles, containers and containers, DIY tools and parts, planters, toys, household and utensil items, eyeglass frames, industrial parts, coatings and pipes, shoes, kits, catheters, prostheses, rhinoplasties, therapeutic probes, raincoats, discs and CDs...

Over the past few years, the idea that plastic must disappear from our daily lives has been growing. The huge amount of plastics that end up in the environment every day, polluting land, seas and rivers, has shaken our consciences, mobilizing society and has caused rivers of ink to flow.

However, facing this "anti-plastic" movement, another movement has emerged that calls for "Don't blame the plastic". Under this slogan it is intended to inform the population, not only about the infinite benefits that plastic has brought and brings to our today's society, but also about its proper use and recycling to prevent it from polluting the environment without having to do without it.

Thanks to plastics, many of the essential sectors in our current society, such as health or automotive, have been able to evolve using a material that provides a reduction in CO2 emissions, fuel savings in the transport of the products manufactured with it as well as consumption of raw materials and that also achieves a reduction of 35% of the food discarded thanks to its applications in the packaging of food products, for instance.

Plastic is one of the most recycled materials in the world, and even when it is no longer possible to recycle it and becomes waste, alternatives are studied to value this waste with the aim of contributing to a circular economy. Not polluting the environment depends on everyone: the end user making good use and recycling of the products consumed, and the industry, working in ecodesign and trying to find viable alternatives to manufacture eco-sustainable products.

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Plasma fluorination, the sustainable response

Some aggressive chemicals generate gases inside the plastic container, so that the container must have exceptional characteristics such as certain barrier properties, so as not to get deformed or deteriorated.

One of the most widely used technologies throughout the 20th century to achieve these barrier properties has been multilayer coextrusion, although today it may show certain disadvantages in terms of its recyclability when mixing different materials in its composition.  Packaging manufactured by multilayer coextrusion requires a specific type of recycling as it is not possible to recycle them following the recovery-separation-classification chain – grinding – washing – recycling way.

Chemical recycling, although a priori of high cost at the moment, has on the other hand a positive aspect taking into account that these containers are not accumulated in landfills. They are controlled and that does not become waste but a new resource.

But the plastics processing industry has continued to evolve to simplify and offer new alternatives by developing and improving existing technologies in order to offer a new technology, plasma fluorination.

With plasma fluorination, it is possible to provide barrier properties to a single material plastic container (HDPE), so it can be used as a packaging of chemicals, such as agrochemicals, giving greater resistance to contact with such products, temperature and pressure changes and avoiding the permeation of water vapour and oxygen.

All this, making the packaging remain 100% recyclable and with an environmentally friendly manufacturing process.

Plasma Fluorination combines the advantages of recycling that HDPE monomaterial packaging has with those of containers with barrier properties that, although essential for certain products, pose new challenges for recycling.

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Adapting the plastics industry

Plasma fluorination technology applied to the manufacture of plastic packaging is novel and innovative.

At Alcion Packaging Solutions we have decided to implement this new plasma fluorination technology in our production plant in Aldaia (Valencia) to provide a sustainable alternative to the industry, and to achieve stronger packaging for the most demanding sectors of the market: agrochemical and industrial.

We have extensive experience in innovation and development of new technologies supported by our R+D+I department. Our 75-years’ experience  supports our commitment to society and industry to which we also provide customized solutions to develop any type of plastic packaging for any activity.

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