New developments with degradable polymers are allowing medicine to be given to patients through contact lenses instead of traditional eye drops. Researchers believe that in many cases, using the contacts will be a better solution for patients than eye drops. The contacts can hold a greater dose of dexamethasone, which helps to fight inflammation in the eyes, as compared to drops. In addition, the slow dissolution of the medicine in the contact lenses allows for more gradual doses of medicine, whereas in eye drops, all of the medicine comes at once. On top of all of those benefits, the degradable polymer contacts are cheaper to develop compared to existing solutions.
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A multinational team of researchers has developed a polymer film which features pores that can change shapes and sizes. Porous polymer membranes currently have a wide variety of applications, including portable electronics, as we reported here back in November. This new film can change the shape of its pores through UV light. In the experiment, the researchers were able to use UV light to change round pores into other shapes, such as rectangles. Even after repeated tests, the pores were still able to switch shapes back into their original configurations. This technology has the potential to be used in new electronics and purification and filtration systems in the future.
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International companies Krehalon and Dunbia have developed a new, single-polymer variation of food packaging that should make the entire waste product easier to recycle. While most film seals use a polyethylene film seal, researchers were able to change it so that the entire package can now be made of an amorphous polyethylene terephthalate, or APET. Normally, the bottom hard plastic is the sole APET part. With this new technology, the same APET material can be used in the film as well, using the same manufacturing equipment as before. The companies believe that having a single material between the two parts of the food packaging will help encourage consumers to recycle the entirety of the package.
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The European Union has announced a new initiative to cut back on single-use plastic packaging, aiming to have 55% of all plastics recycled by 2030. Part of the plan includes investing 350 million Euros in research to help achieve that goal. Already, the plan has received a mixed reaction. Some believe that the plan will help to fuel innovation in the packaging industry, encouraging materials that can be more easily recycled to fit that goal. Some companies, including Pack2Go, have said that this initiative fits in with their internal goals of creating more sustainable packaging. Critics of the plan believe that it doesn’t go far enough to eliminate plastic waste, saying that it doesn’t effectively respond to public pressure about plastic waste. Regardless of the reaction, the steps in place could lead to further innovations in plastic packaging and the food market.
Proctor & Gamble’s laundry detergent brand Tide has been seeing increased attention lately because of problems with people eating their Tide Pods. These products are concentrated detergent wrapped in a plastic film, and have been a very strongly performing project since being launched in 2012. However, various Internet memes involving videos where people eat these detergent pods have become increasingly shared across social media, leading to widespread misinformation. The company has taken steps to reduce the likelihood of this happening, as the products could be confused for a wrapped candy. Some of these enhancements include child-proof containers and an unappetizing coating that would deter people from eating a detergent pod. While none of this is foolproof, Proctor & Gamble hopes to reduce the likelihood of chemical poisoning through such measures.
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While Hurricane Maria may have hit Puerto Rico several months ago, some of its side effects are starting to impact the mainland United States now. One of the country’s biggest suppliers of IV bags for hospitals, Baxter International, has struggled to meet the market demand due to factory damage and electricity outages. Hospitals across the country are running low on the IV bags. In response to this critical shortage, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing the products to be imported from other countries, which is helping to make up some of the demand. Baxter International plans on returning production back to normal levels, as their power problems have been solved in recent days.
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A recent report published by BCC Research suggests that the Plastic Film and Packaging market is looking strong in the coming years. The report points to several areas of the market driving that growth. Expansion into growing markets in Africa and India because of higher demand is causing companies to set up operations in these new markets to help drive sales. Additionally, new innovations from spending on research are making their way into the market, including new developments in food packaging and medical applications. The report projects the market to grow to about $123 billion in 2020, significantly up from last year’s $97 billion.
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A recently concluded study of PVC packaging imported to the United States found that newer packaging is containing less and less cadmium, according to the Toxics in Plastic Clearinghouse. Referencing earlier studies, the organization found cadmium in levels above what’s considered acceptable in about 20% of all samples, largely in packaging imported from China. While that level is higher than they want it to be, researchers remarked that levels in 2008 saw about 55% of samples fail because of too much cadmium. When tested for lead, none of the samples contained any traces, which is what the organization was hoping for.
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Botswana’s P10 banknote is being re-designed with polymer film to help improve the quality of the money. Facing public pressure to do something about the quality of the bills, the new P10 will have extra durability and will feature new anti-counterfeiting measures seen in British and Canadian currency. These new bills have a thin layer of varnish to increase the lifespan, while a clear polymer window shows a zebra when held up to light. The bank estimates that this should extend the lifespan by up to four times as long, which will help the low-denomination bill stay in circulation. The new P10 is scheduled to be rolled out in February of 2018.
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Every year, the United Nations Environment Assembly looks around the world for the best new environmental ideas, and this year, Europe’s winner is focused on polymer film. 25-year-old Adam Dixon’s Phytoponics technology improves the efficiency of irrigation by using recyclable polymer film to contain crops and water. The technology also needs less land than traditional farming, which helps to save space. Dixon’s company is already a million-dollar business, and winning the Young Champion of the Earth prize will provide him additional funding and career training that will help to expand his film technology.
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Bryan Hauger Consulting, Inc.'s Film Team features experts in everything from flexible packaging to failure analysis.