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PCR Milked for Flex-Pack

Consumer demands to preserve the environment is a trend Hood Packaging takes seriously. The biggest challenge is simultaneously keeping upcharges for more sustainable converted products within reason. Finding a substantive solution that meets both needs was resolved when one of Hood’s customers suggested it take a look into using post-consumer resin (PCR) as part of its converted packaging materials.

At Hood’s Tyler, TX, facility, which produces heavy duty plastic shipping sack and film rollstock, often for wrap and form/fill/seal applications, general manager Gulam Harji thought the customer’s idea had true merit and could reduce materials in the waste stream. “Next, since reprocessing resin uses a lot less energy than creating virgin resin,” Harji explains, “we would cut fossil fuel energy consumption. Finally, that would reduce carbon emissions. Reduced landfill waste, cuts in energy use, less greenhouse gas emissions—it was a green trifecta, if we could do it.”

A number of challenges presented themselves—all of which the Tyler plant resolved, but not without perseverance and commitment. Most important was to secure a consistent source of clean resin, which the company tells Paper, Film & Foil Converter it considers proprietary as it involved extensive research involving site audits.

After finding two solid suppliers, the Tyler plant tried various formulas to blend PCR with new materials. “We are fortunate at Tyler to have excellent extrusion equipment and a very solid technical staff,” says Harji. “We found that we could achieve 5 percent to 10 percent mixtures of PC resins in our mid- to high-density PE [polyethylene] products without any sacrifice of quality. The economics looked good as well.”

Acting Today for Tomorrow
In April, Hood launched its new line of PCR-content flexible packaging called Tomorrow’s Choice, lending credence to the company’s belief that if society wants a “clean, safe planet tomorrow, we need to act on that today,” says Harji.

Even more encouraging, Hood has discovered that it can use post-consumer content for most of its products, although right now its primarily used in industrial and commercial applications. Dan Dickenson, senior director, sustainable manufacturing, revealed to PFFC that the company believes it can develop constructions in the future with a buried layer of PCR to allow use in food contact applications, employing its newer proprietary blown film lines.

At present, says Harji, the plant is sending minimal scrap to landfills. “Now, with our new line, we are pulling waste out of them as well.  As things are progressing, very shortly we will be at net zero percent in waste going to landfills and could soon go to positive, pulling more materials out of the waste stream than we are putting in it. That’s Hood Packaging’s way of making ‘Tomorrow’s Choice’—acting today for a better future.”

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Hood Packaging Corp. | www.hoodpkg.com


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