Market Pressure to Go Greener
With all the different chemicals in the “phthalate family,” to make a sweeping statement about the effects of all possible phthalates in all possible vinyl grades would be ill-informed. However, the perception of consumers - that these chemicals, and PVC in general, are hazardous to the environment and human health - is putting pressure on manufacturers to minimize its use. This is not great news for PVC.
In fact, the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission has proposed regulations on certain phthalates, and they continue to review and prohibit more phthalates. The same is true in Europe, as the restriction of phthalates under REACH expands, having a worldwide impact. Furthermore, communities across the globe are putting PVC avoidance policies in place. Countries such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden have limited its use and/or banned it from their landfills. PVC packaging is banned or restricted in numerous countries, including Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Czech Republic. Such legislative interventions, as well as consumer demands, are paving the way for substitutes to replace PVC. In fact, manufacturers like Estee Lauder, Apple, Microsoft, SC Johnson, Honda and Toyota are phasing out PVC from all or portions of their products (chej.org) in response to market pressure, and it’s possible that more OEMs in more industries will eventually follow suit. This will in turn require their suppliers to seek non-PVC alternatives.
What does all this amount to?
As to the pros and cons of PVC, the jury is still out. However, the pressure on the labeling industry to find alternatives continues to mount. Whether the challenge be increasing governmental regulations, legitimate environmental hazards, or simply a tainted public perception, the labeling industry will evolve as the market requires more sustainable solutions. Toward that end, FLEXcon has developed a first-of-its-kind durable polypropylene film that meets the performance requirements for durable labeling in the Consumer Durables, Electronics, Industrial, and Transportation markets.
How Does FLEXcon’s New PP Stack Up?
Polypropylene films have been around for years, but historically they have not offered the outdoor durability and robust performance characteristics needed for durable labeling applications. Until now.
Durability. Resistance to weathering from the sun’s powerful rays is paramount for durable labeling applications – one of the characteristics that makes PVC ideal, and any true alternative would need to stack up in a side-by-side weatherability comparison. Our weathering studies comparing FLEXcon® NEXgen™ PP films to our flexible white and frosty clear vinyls revealed no significant performance difference between the two film types. We assessed total color change (Delta E) and physical degradation in the films over prolonged exposure. FLEXcon NEXgen had comparable performance to control PVCs for each color (Note: a Delta E value below 2 is not observable to the human eye and, therefore, would be considered a successful test result). Additionally, the white PP resisted structural degradation just as well as the white PVCs, and the frosty clear PP outperformed the PVC control, which cracked before reaching 2250 hours.