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Injected Moulded barriers for cost effective food packaging

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLAYMBAR (Injected Moulded barriers for cost effective food packaging)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

CLAYMBAR is a full new technology that applies nanocomposites (nanoclays) to improve the barrier performance of polymer food packaging using a low-cost procedure: injection moulding, an appealing approach to most of our customers and specifically to Heinz Italy, a market leader whose inputs and support has been essential, and all tests conducted to date are promising in regards to safely using our technology for sauces, dairies and infant food.

The feasibility study, conducted from June, 2015 to October, 2015, has been made to validate our approach to market as well as our technology, including a freedom to operate study and risk analysis. We have fully defined the technical specifications, prototype testing, financial forecasting of various production scenarios, and planning through full-scale production.

We have fully validated the business opportunity. Firstly, there is an increased demand of rigid plastic in the food packaging sector. Polymer materials used in food packaging is one of the fastest growing market areas in Europe. There is an increasing demand in low-cost packaging products, changing from glass or rigid metal to cheaper alternatives such as rigid plastic, which is expected to reach a 23% share (€136 billion) of the Global Packaging Market by 2016). Secondly, we are able to improve the barrier performance of food polymer packaging by means of the application of nanocomposites by injection moulding, which is a low-cost procedure. Current solutions in the Food & Drink manufacturing industry are the use of thermoformed containers with a multilayer barrier made of specific materials such as PP/EVOH/PP, an expensive solution as: (1) Thermoforming is a high energy consumption process directly affecting price of the final packaging product; and (2) 40% of raw material is wasted during the thermoforming process and additional energy must be used to recycle it.

The first partner and coordinator, MPG Manifattura Plastica S.p.A with more than 30 years’ experience and €15M turnover in 2013, is an established company in the Italian food packaging sector. The integration of the CLAYMBAR innovative product as part of their business plans will broaden its product portfolio comprising thermoformed and injected moulded rigid plastics, offering to its customers the needed packaging solutions to accelerate their growth. A price reduction up to 20% in the final product in comparison with existing solutions will be the first competitive advantage.
The second partner, Color System S.P.A. was born in 1981 in Italy, and has become one of the leading companies in the production of masterbatches. CS will consolidate its commercial relationship with MPG through its participation in CLAYMBAR project being the main partner as masterbatch supplier, substantially increasing their revenues for 2022.
Finally, the development of the technology and the reason of this project have been also promoted by the demand of a loyal MPG customer from the food sector, Heinz Italia S.p.A. a large company that provides foods in 200 countries around the world. HEINZ has been invited as advisor to the project from the Phase 1 and will act as end user validating the cost-effective packaging technology.
CLAYMBAR proposes an innovative technology for the manufacturing process of rigid plastic packaging for the food sector. Thanks to the inclusion of permeability barriers made upon advanced materials (nanocomposites based on nanoclays) we are able to optimise the injection moulding process to apply the masterbatch into the rigid plastic and so greatly improve the shelf-life of everyday products (infant food, dairies, sauces, etcetera). Moreover, we are able to do this cost-effectively, as our technology optimises the injection moulding manufacturing process to apply the masterbatch into the rigid plastic, which is very attractive for the industry as it is a much less energy consuming process.

During this 6-month feasibility study we’ve validated both the technology and the business opportunity:
1) We have conducted a thorough market analysis to consolidate the demand for a new plastic solution for the food market segment selected (sauces, dairy products and infant feeding); to define the right strategies to penetrate into the market; to assess market competitors.
2) We have defined the target composition of the final masterbatches, as well as the concentration of nanoclays, dispersants, and other elements, performing near-real scenario tests on the final product, and analysis at expert external laboratories.
3) We have identified the critical tasks to produce quality masterbatches and the characteristics of the injection moulding equipment, performing near-real scenario tests on the final product, and analysis at expert external laboratories.
4) We have defined a technology transfer strategy to identify possible agreements with stakeholders in other segments of the food sector. Thanks to the participation of HEINZ during Phase 1, our feasibility study will also provide first-hand information on consumer needs and how best to meet them.
5) We have conducted an operating costs study to define the requirements for manufacturing the final product – including staff planning, labour costs, injection equipment, services, raw materials (nanoclays, PP, others), and other capital costs.
6) We have built 5-years financial projections for both MPG and CS business including: revenue, cash-flow, profit and loss and balance sheet.
7) We have conducted a risk analysis to define the challenges of manufacturing CLAYMBAR.
8) We have defined company agreements. Definition of an adapted structure of the companies to face the business challenges (including technical manager, business developer, commercial network).
9) We have conducted a thorough freedom to operate study.

In order to create a convincing and attractive commercial product, we still have to take the following specific actions to achieve the following business objectives:
1) Conduct a thorough environmental impact analysis to fully estimate the potential environmental impacts of nanotechnology (absence of risk and benefit from being an energy efficient process).
2) Conduct a thorough food contact analysis to consolidate the process to achieve authorisation as a packaging valid product for the food sector in the EU.
3) We have to define the final formulation for the masterbatch and design the final industrial equipment to be used in industrial facilities.
The first partner and coordinator, MPG Manifattura Plastica S.p.A with more than 30 years’ experience and €15M turnover in 2013, is an established company in the Italian food packaging sector. The integration of the CLAYMBAR innovative product as part of their business plans will broaden its product portfolio comprising thermoformed and injected moulded rigid plastics, offering to its customers the needed packaging solutions to accelerate their growth. A price reduction up to 20% in the final product in comparison with existing solutions will be the first competitive advantage.

The second partner, Color System S.P.A. was born in 1981 in Italy, and has become one of the leading companies in the production of masterbatches. CS will consolidate its commercial relationship with MPG through its participation in CLAYMBAR project being the main partner as masterbatch supplier, substantially increasing their revenues for 2022.
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