The plastic industry is a major predictor of colour concepts for consumer products: Roy

Sambit Roy of Clariant Masterbatches India, talks about his company’s innovative range of products and the driving factors of the Indian packaging market

17 Apr 2020 | By WhatPackaging? Team

Roy: We are witnessing multi-dimensional demands in the Indian market

"To meet our environmental targets, we take measures to ensure the responsible use of natural capital. We aspire to bring innovation in our products through weight reduction, thereby bringing down the carbon footprint. This includes programmes to protect the environment, safeguard natural resources, mitigate climate change, and promote the transition to a circular economy,” says Sambit Roy, Head of LBL India, BU MB, Clariant.

To achieve these targets, the company has developed a range of innovative range of solutions such as functional masterbatches for rigid packaging, fragrance for packaging, oxygen scavenger masterbatches for packaging, and laser masterbatches.

Functional masterbatches for rigid packaging
Clariant partnered with multiple Indian consumer goods packaging companies to provide packaging solutions with less polymer content. The Self-Sustaining Polymer (SSP) manufactured at Clariant’s Vashere site in Maharashtra, is a specially designed masterbatch which can be used to replace up to 20% polymer in polyolefin rigid packaging without affecting the functional properties of the end product. Thus, reducing the environmental impact of packaging.

“Our masterbatches help personal care, home care and food packaging products stand out on crowded supermarket shelves while meeting cost, recyclability and sustainability objectives,” says Roy.

The company fulfills the needs of the rigid packaging market for a range of applications such as polyolefin bottles, thermoformed trays, injection molded containers, caps and closures.

The masterbatches can replace up to 20% polymer in polyolefin rigid packaging

Fragrance for packaging
Another product range manufactured at the company’s Vashere site are CESA scent masterbatches. Similar to SSP, it is used in personal care and home care packaging to capture consumer attention for the products in stores and supermarkets.

Roy explains, “CESA scent masterbatches provide exactly the same fragrance to the packaged products externally, as that of the inner content. By incorporating scent into packaging, brand interactions can go beyond fleeting attention and engage customers at a deeper level. When used in packaging, it eliminates the need for consumers to open the containers to test the content’s fragrance and thereby, avoids losses and wastage of content.”

CESA scent masterbatches are specially designed to withstand multiple thermal cycles without loss of fragrances and provide controlled release of fragrances from plastic articles.

Oxygen scavenger masterbatches for packaging
Clariant’s CESA ProTect is an oxygen (O2) barrier masterbatch that helps in extending the shelf life of packaged foods and beverages.

“The long-lasting O2-barrier effect of the masterbatches maximizes the shelf life of foods and medicines packaged in mono-layer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers. By reducing the rate at which oxygen permeates through the package walls, CESA ProTect effectively slows degradation. Thus, the food stays fresh for a longer period, avoiding wastage,” says Roy.

He adds, “When less food is wasted, there is less strain on the environment. In PET bottle packaging, sensitive applications suffer from oxygen inlet. Fruit juices lose vitamin potency and undergo a colour shift, dairy products can sour, coffee capsules suffer flavour loss, and as little as one ppm of oxygen can change the taste and odour of beer.”

The active ingredients in these masterbatches provide a quality barrier for a wide range of oxygen sensitive products. It is designed for PET containers that require long shelf-life and low oxygen content. The masterbatches help in controlling the oxygen permeation through the sidewalls and maintain the oxygen levels inside the packaging well below one ppm for more than seventeen months.

According to Roy, the product is also suitable for cold chain distribution as it has performed well on refrigerated products. In addition, Clariant’s Mevopur ProTect O2 scavenger helps extend shelf life of pharma packaging by effectively limiting oxygen and preventing degradation of drugs and nutraceuticals stored in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, even in a transparent mono-layer construction.

CESA ProTect provides barrier for oxygen sensitive products

Laser masterbatches
In this range of masterbatches, the company employs laser marking by utilising the energy of a focused laser beam to produce a combined thermal and photochemical effect. In many cases, polyolefins and other polymers that are highly sensitive to laser radiation require special additives to make laser marking viable.

According to Clariant, CESA laser masterbatches can provide an effective solution for long-lasting marking on rigid and flexible packaging. “We have extended the limits of the technology by making it possible to mark in colours beyond traditional grey tones. It helps to be environmentally friendly, clean (free of ink), high-speed printing solution resulting in irreversible, permanent marking,” says Roy.

The recent innovation in these masterbatches provide an effective solution to polyolefin flexible films. “Since most plastics are transparent to the radiation used in the laser marking process, the additives are necessary to achieve a visible reaction in the film. The marks are permanent and resistant to water, oil, grease or fatty foods. They can be applied to the surface of mono-layer film, or a laser-sensitive layer can be placed behind a laser-transparent surface layer. The additives provide excellent contrast and allow high-speed marking,” explains Roy.

Clariant ColorWorks
Clariant ColorWorks is a creative application for facilitating colour and special effects in product design and branding. The company has four ColorWorks centres in India that provide collaborative environments between packaging designers, engineers, and brand managers, along with Clariant’s development expertise.

“Our team helps in exploring colour, effects, additives, functional enhancements and processing options by using our own tooling shapes, or insert your tooling, to achieve rapid market penetration and improve the hit rate of product launches. It is an environment where customers collaborate to integrate colour trends and additive technologies with technical and processing expertise to co-design and co-create packaging concepts of powerful consumer appeal and functional excellence, “says Roy.

ColorWorks facilitates colour and special effects in product design and branding 

In addition, ColorWorks’ annual publication – ColorForward yearbook identifies the latest global trends in consumer interests, values and lifestyles, and interprets them into a colour palette. "For each trend's theme, it presents five colours that people can be expected to respond to. This unique tool can then be used by plastic product designers and marketing professionals to help them make more informed colour choices for new products and packaging,” adds Roy.

Clariant and Polymateria
Clariant partnered with Polymateria to promote a more positive approach that recognises both the ideal and the practical side of handling packaging waste. Polymateria has developed a technology that enables the packaging to escape into the environment after its service life is over, as it will begin to degrade and, within two years, leave behind only water, carbon dioxide and biomass.

Clarinat's representatives with Raghavendra Rao, secretary, department of chemicals and petrochemicals 

Another product, designed specifically for single-use products, initiates the degradation process within six months. Roy says, “The masterbatches containing the Polymateria additives can easily be mixed into plastics – just like other colour or additives masterbatches – during the processing stage. Clariant and Polymateria are bringing new options for plastics packaging to market.”

More than 10,000 annual colour matches
Clariant Masterbatches completes more than 10,000 customer specific colour matches every year. “To execute the customer demands of accurate shade matching across several variations and at times has a stringent turn-around time, is no easy feat,” says Roy.

He adds, "To achieve this, we work closely with customers and customise products as per specific needs. Going beyond, we offer a diverse portfolio of standard and custom colour and additive concentrates for a wide range of polymers and processes which are responsible for the functionality of plastics across a range of market sgemnets."

The wide segment application across polymer matrix and plastic processes is another key consideration that Calriant pays attention to. To address this, Clariant introduced InstaColr, which enables the colour matching to be done on the spot at the customer site by capturing requirements and finding the various alternative options in it. “It is possible to deliver colour chips and samples to customers within 2-5 days through our Global Colour Library, which has more than 250,000 colours,” says Roy.

Indian plastic industry
According to Roy, much of the country’s recycling sector is informal and unregulated, as on a daily basis, India generates 33.1 million pounds of post-consumer plastic parts of which only 19.8 million pounds are collected and recycled. “The debate around plastics has been fierce in India. In fact, on 5 June 2018, the country made one of the farthest-reaching commitments to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022. Faced with the undeniable consequences of a certain kind of plastic, people around the world are rejecting single-use plastics and pledging to live more sustainably.” 

He further explains that businesses cannot afford to ignore the customer’s green expectations today and many industries are drawing up plans to phase out single-use plastics, use more recycled plastic in their packaging and work on more effective recycling. “The plastic industry is a major predictor of colour concepts for future consumer products and the forecasted colours are stimulants to inspiration and imagination."

India’s market potential
Robust growth in packaging industry, rapid industrialisation, and growing demand for lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicles are driving the masterbatches market in India. Simultaneously, the government of India has also announced plans to invest USD 14.7 billion for development of 100 smart cities and 500 cities under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) mission.

In addition, Roy believes that the Make in India movement has been scaling the manufacturing requirements and opportunities in the country. “We are witnessing multi-dimensional demands, for instance, the demand for white masterbatches is growing as it imparts opacity and is also being used as a base colour for the packaging industry. The demand for packaged food with a longer shelf life is increasing, which is a major factor driving investment in the packaging sector,” says Roy.

In his view, the growth of colour masterbatch is mainly driven by end-use industries such as consumer goods, automotive, building and construction, fiber and textile and packaging. And the rapid growth of packaging of consumer goods, and automotive industries coupled with the growing building and construction and agriculture sectors are major future growth drivers that are among the major end-use sectors using masterbatches.

At a glance: Clariant India

Clariant Masterbatches is one of the seven business units of Clariant International headquartered in Muttenz, Switzerland. The company has 46 manufacturing plants in five continents. In India, Clariant has dedicated application centres and a Regional Innovation Centre.

Clariant Masterbatches has been operating in India, since 2001, and as of today, has an overall market share of 8-10%. The company manufactures masterbatches at its Vashere and Rania sites in India. Clariant recently launched a new facility in Guangzhou, China, dedicated to the manufacturing and supply of specialty black masterbatches.


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