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REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemical substances. Customers are increasingly seeking non-hazardous solutions.
The ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has recently given cobalt octoate – a free form of cobalt – a more stringent reproductive toxicity classification. This led to a reclassification of nearly all commonly used cobalt-based catalyst products. In the long term, further restrictions for cobalt octoate are expected, which would stop its use in consumer products. The industry therefore faces the challenge of finding a suitable replacement without compromising performance or without having to modify the whole production chain.
Preparing for future restrictions, an IMCD customer asked our Advanced Materials team for support in replacing the cobalt octoate-based polymerization catalyst crucial to their process. IMCD was able to offer the customer an excellent alternative: a polymerization catalyst with a non-hazardous profile, containing cobalt “bound” in a polymeric structure.
In cooperation with its principal, IMCD also developed several custom-made mix accelerators based on this non-hazardous catalyst. These bespoke 1:1 drop-in solutions allowed the customer to replace reclassified cobalt carboxylate complexes without having to modify current formulations.
The very close technical collaboration between IMCD, its principal and its customer led to a range of tailor-made solutions and catalyst variations. Thanks to the complex matrix polymer structure of those innovative products, the replacement of cobalt carboxylates could be realised by 100%, with non-hazardous characteristics and the highest level of environmental performance.
After a very successful introduction and a series of production trials, the customer has started to launch this sustainable solution in its worldwide facilities with the support of IMCD’s technical experts and widespread presence.
A client of our customer, a leading multinational retailer, has announced that they will be the first to use a recyclable and biodegradable plastic tray as the container for all their fresh fish-related products. This tray will be the first container of this kind being used in retail distribution in Spain. They will roll out the tray across all their supermarkets in the country and will more than likely extend its use to other regions in the near future.
The secret to this success has been the close collaboration between the IMCD Spain Advanced Materials team and Bandesur, the manufacturer and current supplier of the retailer's disposable trays for fresh food products. Using their knowledge and expertise, IMCD Spain’s advanced materials' specialists supported Bandesur in formulating a biodegradable solution that would meet sustainable market demands.
One key ingredient made this development possible. Poly-Bi is an innovative product supplied by one of IMCD’s Principal partners in Spain. It is compatible with the most commonly used materials in food containers and is particularly suitable for use with fish products. When placed in the right environmental conditions, Poly-Bi makes the biodegradation of polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene possible. The resulting tray product degrades 60 times faster than a traditional tray.
IMCD supports the promotion of sustainable alternatives wherever possible and this unique development was something that our customer, as a food industry leader, could simply not ignore. The biodegradable tray provided the perfect solution for the concern and their commitment to reducing single-use plastics in favor of environmentally friendly packaging.