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Polypropylene and Polyethylene: One Step Closer to Finding Eco-friendly Plastics

May 22, 2020 | Chemicals & Materials

It is noticeable that plastic has become one of the most unpopular materials since the last few years. But, the modern world is still very much dependent on them. Right from everyday household items and product packaging, to industrial facilities and automobiles, plastics are present everywhere. Several manufacturers are striving persistently to produce environmental-friendly solutions.

Two types of plastics are used extensively for the packaging of consumer goods. They are polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). This article provides detailed information about both these types of plastics, as well as new developments taking place in the industry. It also consists of the future outlook of the industry.

Polyethylene: The Cheapest Plastic Ever Made

PE is considered to be the most versatile, yet cheapest plastic globally. At present, China is responsible for around one-fourth of the demand for PR worldwide. Vietnam and India are two of the fastest expanding countries for this type of plastic. Ethylene, a gaseous hydrocarbon, is the base monomer that is used to produce PE. It is extremely stable. Coordination polymerization is used in many industrial PE manufacturing procedures. It requires the presence of oxides or chlorides.

The PE industry is likely to be fueled by the wealth of sources of ethylene feedstock, as well as the highly commoditized nature of this type of plastic. Besides, it is a low-cost material that can be used for a wide range of product packaging. It also possesses superior flexibility. Therefore, it is mainly used to manufacture closures, caps, shrink wraps, and squeeze bottles. Besides, it has high tensile strength that enables manufacturers in producing industrial bulk containers, juice and milk bottles, trays, and crates.

Propylene: A Common Household Item

PP, on the other hand, is made up of monomer propylene. Every person owns at least one item that is made up of PP in their households. As per the American Chemistry Council, approximately 7.3 billion pounds of PP were produced in the U.S. alone in 2017. The council predicts that the global demand for PP is likely to upsurge up to 62 million tons by the end of 2020. However, it can be heavily influenced by the growing changes in consumer behavior.

PP is mainly extruded or spun into fibers. These fibers are then utilized to make moisture-resistant and robust twine. Those fabrics that are made from PP fibers are low-cost and very strong. Thus, it is considered to be a vital option for transportation and storage of food items, namely, vegetables, fruits, and grains. In the healthcare sector, it is used to make specimen bottles, intravenous devices, vials, and syringes.

Borealis AG Promotes the Usage of Viable PP Alternatives

In June 2019, Borealis AG, a chemical company based in Vienna, declared that it is committed to achieving greater circularity of plastics. It began supporting packaging manufacturers, retailers, and brand owners, that are looking forward to fulfilling the increasing demand for sustainable packaging solutions made up of PP. The production process of Borealis’ PP materials is not only environmentally friendly but are also easier to recycle. It can cut off the total water consumption by up to 20% and energy consumption by approximately 50%.

Amcor Acquires Bemis Company to Broaden its Presence in Global Market   

In June 2019, Amcor, a packaging company headquartered in Melbourne, completed the acquisition of Bemis Company Inc., a manufacturer of flexible packaging products and pressure-sensitive materials based in the U.S. As per the company officials, this acquisition would aid Amcor in bringing additional footprint, capabilities, and scale that would further generate considerable value for shareholders, as well as strengthen its value proposition. The newly combined organization is named Amcor Plc.

The Road Ahead

As per a published study by Fortune Business Insights™, the demand for PE is anticipated to upsurge in the coming years stoked by the high demand from consumer goods, food and beverage, electrical and electronics, and automotive industries. Also, the usage of PE in toys, sports, and fashion items is growing at a fast pace because of their ability to allow hassle-free molding of products, provide flexibility in packaging, and resist physical stress.

Lastly, the PP industry would experience significant growth across the world backed by the rising consumption of packaged food and beverages. This material is equipped with the property of moisture barrier. Hence, it can reduce quality loss and food spoilage. Apart from that, in various industries, PP is used for the packaging of numerous electrical parts and spares. Overall, the industry would showcase significant growth soon.

Author’s Bio:

Name: Reeti Banerjee

Reeti Banerjee is currently working as a content writer in a prominent market research firm named Fortune Business Insights. She specializes in writing articles, press releases, blogs, and news reports. She believes in maintaining simplicity throughout her content to provide the clients with seamless reading experience.

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