The Milacron Klear Can, an injection molded see-through plastic can, is hitting the market at a propitious time. Compared to metal cans, the clarified polypropylene “can” contains no bisphenol A (BPA). And it may be getting a somewhat unexpected boost from environmentalists as a replacement for glass food containers, which are already on the decline.
Glass is a highly recyclable material, but the economics of glass recycling are nosediving with the rise of single-stream recycling across the U.S. Increasingly, shards of glass are arriving at recycling centers as part of piles of garbage and junk. Recyclers now charge up to $40 a ton for loads of waste glass. Shards of glass mixed in with recycled plastic and paper reduce their value. That’s a bigger problem now because prices generally are weak for recycled materials due to lower costs for fossil fuels.
Some towns will no longer accept glass in single-stream recycling programs, angering environmentalists. And because of active Earth Day programs in schools, “environmentalists” are now a lot of peoples’ own kids.
Enter the Klear Can, which was introduced by Milacron’s newly acquired Kortec unit at a packaging show in Germany last year, and shown again this year at NPE2015 in Orlando, Florida.
It’s a cool piece of technology. Plus it’s transparent, like glass, and—according to Milacron—it’s recyclable.
“Our new Klear Can is not only a revolutionary milestone in food canning technology, it also far surpasses previous types of see-through cans,” said Russell Bennett, vice president of sales and marketing for Milacron, Co-Injection Technology in a press release issued at NPE2015 by Millliken, which supplies the clarifying agent. “By partnering with Milliken, we developed a unique solution with the highest clarity and best-in-class aesthetics. Combined with its exceptional light weight and improved durability and recyclability, the Klear Can promises to change the way shelf-stable foods are marketed.”
An EVOH barrier in between polypropylene layers helps provide shelf life up to five years. Is that recyclable? It doesn’t fit neatly into the commercial streams now in place for high-density polyethylene (milk bottles) or PET (soda bottles). But with increasing use of olefins in cars and elsewhere, it may have a fairly strong future in the commercial recycling world.