By Cara Bommarito, RadTech
UV/EB technology is known for many environmental positives, offering users a great opportunity to transform their systems to more efficient and cleaner processes. RadTech has formed a sustainability committee to better promote the environmental benefits of UV/EB and explore how the industry may address increasing environmental concerns. The committee is managed by myself – Cara Bommarito. I’m a former automotive coatings chemist with BASF. My goal with the sustainability committee is to develop data and information to support the sustainability benefits or UV/EB and ensure all claims and findings accurately represent the technology.
There currently are five committee members:
Todd Fayne, Pepsico, has global accountability for materials and process development for food packaging at PepsiCo. Additionally, he is building the global supply chain for bioplastic flexible films. Fayne’s sustainability statement is: “I have worked in the sustainability sector for 15 years and have a passion for driving toward smart solutions to the plastics crisis.”
David Biro, Sun Chemical, is the director of Sun Chemical’s Center of Excellence for Narrow Web Tag and Label. All technical teams in the R&D center support this team of researchers. Biro’s statement on sustainability is: “There is a strong push from brand owners and customers to show that the products they use and convert have sustainable characteristics with regards to the 5 R’s.”
Biro and Fayne are the group co-chairs, with members including:
Andrew Mitchell, PrintPack, is a member of the Innovation and Research Team and manages Pilot Plant operations. He is the project leader from a product development perspective for the recently installed wide-web electron beam printing press for flexible packaging. Mitchell’s statement on sustainability is: “Since joining the food packaging industry, I have learned so much more about the role of packaging in reducing food waste throughout the world. This exposure also has highlighted the significant opportunity for greater sustainability within the flexible packaging industry, regarding sustainable product offerings, processes and consumer education. I’m excited to be a part of Printpack and RadTech’s efforts to achieve greater sustainability across our industry.”
Dan Thesis, P&G, is part of Sustainable Packaging Research and Development, developing product and packaging solutions to unmet consumer needs, with added focus on sustainable consumption of resources and the life cycle of those solutions. Thesis’ sustainability statement is: “Our consumers are looking for more sustainable products to fit their life choices and demanding accountability from the manufacturers. Sustainability is an integral consideration for everything we do, but often requires collaboration across industry groups to achieve meaningful change.”
Jake Staples, Wausau, is the technical manager at Wausau Coated Products, which manufactures coated paper and film materials. He leads a team of technical specialists responsible for R&D of new products and raw materials as well as product recommendations and technical support for existing products. Staples’ sustainability statement is: “Sustainability is important for protecting our environment, and it can lead to more efficient processes due to energy conservation and waste reduction.”
One of the initial efforts of the committee is testing UV/EB materials for recyclability. As a first test, the committee is supporting a CapStone project with the University of Massachusetts Lowell that will involve a graduate student of Professor Carol Barry’s, the Plastics Engineering Department chair, who will study the effects of UV/EB ink on PE film plastic and recyclability. The project will be undertaken during the winter 2022 semester, with the Sustainability Committee supplying the scope of work and the samples.
In addition to the CapStone project, the committee also is working on a proposal with a private lab which operates out of Iowa State University. IdeoPak Laboratory is founded by Keith Vorst and supported by Professor Greg Curtzwiler, who would offer comprehensive and detailed data for an additional plastics study. This study would follow all APR guidelines and required ISO test methods. A proposal for this study currently is being prepared for review by the RadTech Board of Directors. The goal of both studies is to demonstrate for end users the recyclability of UV/EB and to show the technology is in line with the emerging demand for a circular economy across many sectors.
The sustainability committee also is developing criteria for an award in sustainability, which will be presented at the RadTech 2022 conference. The award is open to the customers and end users of UV/EB technology to show how UV/EB is used in innovative and sustainable ways. Finally, the committee has created a sustainability statement for RadTech as an organization. This is a living document which will be evolving as changes to policy and environmental expectations occur. The policy statement discusses the following: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation, air emissions, chemical concerns and circular economy.