Flame retardants have a long and mixed history. While Deca Brominated flame retardants are the most widely used (about 80% of the Brominated flame retardants are the Deca type), there is some scientific evidence that the brominated flame retardants have negative health effects.
Deca brominated flame retardants are used primarily in textiles and foams such as upholstery, mattresses, and electronics such as computer housings and TVs. However, many of these markets have started demanding Bromine-Free Retardants (BFRs), and there is some progress being in the non-halogenated flame retardants in certain products.
The chemical created by the reaction to combustion and the thermal degradation of plastics is affected by additives to the plastics such as plasticizers, stabilizers, colorants, fillers and even flame retardants whose purpose is to “retard” or slow the flammability of these polymer-containing products.
Some states have recently banned the use of deca bromines in furniture upholstery, foam padding and mattresses. And while the EPA lists deca bromine as a “possible human carcinogen” based on some studies, there is little hard, scientific evidence.
It raises the issue of what is good and what is bad in the world of chemistry. Does every solution such as retarding flammability in mattresses, couches, computer housings, etc. to prevent injury and death by fire, contain within it more problems? And does the solution do more harm than good?
There currently several safer flame retardants on the market. Click here for more information.
Cosmetics products depend heavily on their packaging to provide their branding. Shapes, colors, labels and logos all promote the ‘look’ of the specific brand in a sea of products, and entice consumers to ‘pick me up!’.
Puttin’ on the Ritz for high-end brands requires packaging of lustrous glossy finishes with bright metallic decorations hot-stamped into the packaging. They also need to be molded out of durable polycarbonate material to hold up for repeated usage, have a hefty feel and a rich look. These brands go for unique shapes, especially in perfume bottles. All of these features are the perfect differentiators, and plastics can provide durability, creative package shapes and colors, and the ability to decorate the packaging in a number of ways to add glitz and glamour in a crowded market space.
Mass market consumer brands also need differentiators, and go for packaging in bright, day-glo colors and jazzy packaging to attract the younger demographic who are looking for cool, sleek and stylish.
It’s true that what’s on the inside is important, but what counts is the outside – great packaging that provides the branding that sells the products!
Plastics have long played a major role in the medical device industry. Thanks to plastics’ use in disposable “single-use” devices (syringes, intravenous delivery devices, etc.), infection rates have dropped dramatically over the past 50 years.
The global medical device market is expected to reach US$302 billion in 2017, and big changes are expected. The way treatments are administered will change and there will be fewer invasive procedures and more minimally invasive surgeries. Devices are becoming smaller, especially electronic devices that help deliver drugs automatically at prescribed doses and specified times, helping patients enjoy more normal active lives.
Monitoring devices worn by the patient can deliver information to the treating physician on a 24/7 basis and mean fewer hospital stays and less time in doctors’ offices.
Materials such as bio-compatible plastics for implantable medical devices can help bones to knit faster, lower rejection rates and minimize adverse reactions to other materials. Many implantable micro-devices contain pharmaceuticals that can provide medication for a period of time. Known as ‘drug-eluting’ devices, these new treatment methods offer convenience for the patient and are more efficacious because the drug is delivered on a continuous basis, sometimes directly to the affected organ such as the eye for people with glaucoma.
Plastics in medical devices make them safer and convenient and reduce the overall total cost of care in today’s healthcare environment.
Antimicrobial additive technology for plastics has been around for more than a decade. These additives, which can be either organic or inorganic in nature, can be dispersed in plastic materials to prevent bacterial colonies from taking hold in products used in environments conducive to colony growth. These include marine environments; other moist, warm environments; hospital environments, construction applications such as Wood Plastic Composites (WPCs) using in decking and railing, and more.
Antimicrobial additives are suitable for a variety of applications such as high-traffic public contact areas such as escalator rails, door handles in retail store settings, hospital furniture, medical packaging, and household appliances, equipment for the food processing industry.
According to recent research, inorganic silver-based antimicrobials are the market leaders for plastics applications requiring antibacterial surfaces. However, new antimicrobial and biocides are being developed for use in many types of plastic resins. Over the past decade, resin producers have developed a number of antimicrobial-grade polymers aimed at these applications to create long-term, antimicrobial environment to extend the life of your products.
See more about antimicrobial additives for plastics
Whether you are healthcare professional using plastic medical devices, or you have appliances in your home, everyone wants to try to keep plastic clean. To reduce stains, odors, or deterioration, custom-formulated antimicrobials for polymers have been created.
Microbes are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Once the microbes have multiplied, only then can they be detected without a microscope. To affect the growth of bacteria, silver ions can be dispersed throughout the polymer matrix. The silver ions inhibit the growth of bacteria without disappearing themselves. Therefore the silver ions continue to work in keeping the product fresh.
Antimicrobials have been created for the polymer industry to keep products cleaner longer. Medical devices typically include plastic that is not inherently bacterial resistant. With the use of these antimicrobials, there is a sense of security on how long the medical device will maintain its cleanliness. By impeding the growth of bacteria on the surfaces of products, antimicrobials can reduce stains, odors or product deterioration. Crucial products like medical devices, medical packaging, and appliances will be positively affected by the use of antimicrobials.
Learn about how Plastics Color Corp contributes to the hygiene of healthcare facilities worldwide.
Transparent communication in the sustainability of products is important for manufacturers, consumers and the government. With consumer demand for sustainable products and government regulations increasing, polymer experts are determined to design solutions to meet standards such as ASTM D6400 and ASTM D6866. Attaining these esteemed standards proves a commitment to the environment and increases credibility for companies.
Whether the biodegradable plastics are created from a commonly used resin or an innovative modern technology, a standard provides regulations for everyone to understand. There is a need for all parties to be on the same page, and objective standards are a perfect benchmark for manufacturers to consider. Additives and polymers used in plastics may not have common names and terms, but since the introduction of standards and testing, consumers will be more aware of what they are purchasing.
With standards and testing, manufacturers are held accountable for the products they create. When a company makes the conscious effort to make a change for the environment, the benefits are felt throughout the supply chain. Today, the plastics industry has turned to recycled content and bio-based materials in an effort to advance the sustainability model. Additive suppliers are under constant pressure to meet market demands while adhering to polymer sustainability measures. With environmentally friendly plastics, there will be a sustainable change for future generations.
See more about sustainable options for polymers.
The polymer industry has faced criticism through the years for its questionable impact on the environment. With consumer products and packaging applications relying on plastics, getting rid of the material is not an option. The industry has heard the call from consumers and regulators to develop sustainable options for polymers with lower carbon footprints and enhanced disposable options. Now, innovative technology and research are transforming products and replacing harmful materials with sustainable solutions, resulting in biodegradable plastics.
What are biodegradable plastics? They are created in two ways. The first is through polymers produced from renewable plant-based resins or a combination of plant and petroleum resins. The second way is combining an additive with traditional petroleum-based resins which accelerates the biodegradation of traditional petroleum-based plastics. Once there is an environmental condition present, such as heat, pressure, moisture, mechanical stress or UV exposure, the process of biodegradation begins.
Forward-thinking products will reshape the polymer industry in a positive light. With a new generation of dedicated research and awareness for the environment, highly renewable plastics will be the next phase of the market. As the industry continues to evolve toward sustainable material solutions, a newfound confidence in the capabilities of plastics will develop in consumers.
See more about sustainable options for polymers.