Several advance press releases for NPE 2009 are focusing on “earth-friendly” plastics and “sustainable” processes. They also discuss “creating value” and “remaining competitive” in “difficult economic times.” I am intrigued by these statements because we are in the midst of preparing for next week’s “Sustainability 102″ Webcast on Packaging Line Efficiency, to be held on Wednesday, June 24.
In pharmaceutical and medical device packaging, one of the best ways to simultaneously reduce environmental footprints and remain competitive is to ensure that your packaging lines are running as efficiently as possible. In other words, get the most out of your lines while they are running, and ensure that they are not down when you need them to be up. Our experts speaking in the Webcast will be discussing ways to reduce labor, energy use, and waste on packaging lines; to minimize downtime and rejects; and to increase overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
We believe that increasing line efficiency will be how pharmaceutical and medical device packagers first approach sustainability along with the ever-pursued requests to “downgauge” or “lightweight” their packages. Using less material, either through less packaging line waste or through smaller, lighter packages, puts less material into the waste stream. Line improvements can often be made much sooner than can material changes.
Format and material changes are certainly happening, too, but at a conservative pace. We are keeping our eyes on novel alternatives, such as those PolyOne will discuss in its June 23 press event at NPE. The polymer provider will discuss PLA biopolymer compounds that are blended with engineering thermoplastics for “higher heat and impact resistance.”
PolyOne will also share news on use of BPA-free Eastman Tritan copolyester, which we saw at last week’s MD&M East.
Other NPE exhibitors promoting greener options include Milacron Plastic Technologies with its PowerPak, a new injection molding machine consuming less energy; Telles with its Mirel bioplastics, which the company says can be used for inhaler housings; Wilmington Machinery with its plastic pallet-making system using 100% recycled materials; and AutoDesk with its Moldflow software that can be used to develop more environmentally friendly parts.
We will keep you posted. In the meantime, be sure to attend our Webcast on June 24 to find out how you can increase line efficiency now.