New masterbatch choices from Clariant

New masterbatch choices from Clariant
Clariant at K 2010: with the addition of a new line of masterbatches that comply with standards governing compostability and ecotoxicity, producers of products and packaging made from biopolymers have a wider range of options in color and performance-enhancing additives.

Choices range from masterbatches based on conventional, man-made ingredients to those incorporating all-natural materials drawn from renewable sources like plants. Now an attractive third option has been introduced. These and other color and performance innovations for the plastics industry are on display at the K2010.

“Until recently, companies developing products from biopolymers like PLA and Mater-Bi had a difficult decision,” explains Hendrik Kammler, Global Head of Segment Additives, Clariant Masterbatches. “They could use all-natural masterbatches and accept that the range of colors and additives available was limited, expensive and not very process- or light-stable. Or, they could use conventional pigments and functional ingredients and compromise on the environmental friendliness of their product. Now, we can provide them with a very attractive third alternative.”

RENOL-compostable colors and CESA-compostable additive masterbatches incorporate conventional (non-natural) additives and pigments in a biopolymer carrier resin. Testing of the ingredients, completed in the independent laboratories of OWS nv (Gent, Belgium), determined that the materials can comply with EN 13432:200 – the widely recognized standard for heavy-metal content and plant-toxicity.

In addition, Clariant has obtained the highly desirable “OK compost" certification issued by AIB Vinçotte International (Vilvoorde, Belgium). The products made at two Clariant facilities in Europe have obtained the Vinçotte approval stamp for the range of new eco-friendly masterbatches they manufacture. The RENOL-compostable product line includes masterbatches based on over 80 different pigments, so color choices are almost unlimited. CESA-compostable additive masterbatches include UV-stabilizer and antioxidant packages, with more additives currently pending review.

AIB Vinçotte is an independent testing organization that has developed certification programs for compostable and bio-based products. Any product featuring the “OK compost” logo can be assumed to comply with the requirements of the EU Packaging Directive (94/62/EEC), which seeks to limit packaging waste. The “OK compost” certificate indicates conformity with approved production procedures and guarantees that only colorants and additives that pass strict testing for ecotoxicity are added to the biopolymer carrier resin.

“When companies first began looking at biopolymers they could boast that their products were made from materials based on natural and renewable feedstocks,” Kammler recalls, “but while the matrix resin might have been compostable or biodegradable, the colorants and additives were not. So, three years ago, Clariant introduced the first commercial line of all-natural color and additive masterbatches, featuring active ingredients made entirely from renewable resources. Colors included red, orange yellow and green, derived mainly from plants, but choices continue to be limited and light and process stability can be an issue in certain applications. Today, the new RENOL-compostable and CESA-compostable masterbatches give users an attractive middle ground: the performance and cost benefits conventional colorants and additives in a formulation that does not change the compostability of products made of the bio-based resins.

Clariant has been producing masterbatches for Novamont’s Mater-Bi biopolymer since 1995, with significant volumes used in black agricultural films and also in shopping and garbage bags made from the material. Application targets for the new products include packaging and single- or limited-use products like plastic utensils, drink cups and pens, where bio-based resins, such as PLA, currently are being specified.

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