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Packaging & design

Bakelite: A prime alternative to plastic?

French company Technicaps, the European leader in thermosetting resin transformation, defends the environmental performance of their products, Bakelite-based caps, lids and jars for the luxury industry, with a thorough plan based on the 3R strategy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

With its naturally high density of 1.5, cold feel and singular sonority, the Bakelite cap shares a long history with the world of luxury perfumes and cosmetics. “The first perfume caps not made of glass were Bakelite-based,” explains CEO Arnaud Revel. Supplanted by plastic in the 1970s, this non-petrochemical material is now gaining more interest.

The produce of bakelite emits three times less CO2 than the same quantity of mass-produced thermosets. Furthermore, the origin and properties of bakelite make it possible to upgrade products on the industrial scale.

The produce of bakelite emits three times less CO2 than the same quantity of mass-produced thermosets. Furthermore, the origin and properties of bakelite make it possible to upgrade products on the industrial scale.

This technology is not widely known because the market is mostly focused on injection techniques involving different plastic types. And yet, it is a packaging solution which satisfies the four major criteria when it comes to choosing packaging: a technology adapted to the product’s chemical specificities, countless design possibilities, a competitive price, and sustainable qualities,” says Arnaud Revel.

From a technical standpoint, thermosetting materials are insulating, so they offer an intrinsic compatibility with many bulk products for lids and jars.

As for design, this material offers extremely thin, unique engravings.

And as regards the price, Bakelite products are indeed more expensive than plastic, but Technicaps offsets this by offering a broad range of standard models for attractive prices.

A high environmental performance

Lastly, as far as environmental protection is concerned, Bakelite is a good student. Often classified as plastic, it is actually derived from biosourced raw materials: 40% comes from wood cellulose and 60% from renewable elements like the air, water, and urea, a fertilizer widely used all around the world.

To strengthen their environmental commitment, five years ago, Technicaps launched a broad plan based on the 3R strategy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). This approach helped reduce water consumption by four, but also boost production without increasing power consumption. “We have evidence that for the same production level, between 2013 and 2018, we gained about 15g of CO2 per unit produced, and we produce 56 million a year,” claims Arnaud Revel.

In terms of reuse, the programme is aimed to reintegrate production flakes through a process added to the manufacturing phase.

As regards recycling, the origin and properties of the raw material make it possible to upgrade products on the industrial scale. Technicaps has already implemented three solutions to this aim. The first is historic: the parts can be turned into blast to strip fragile surfaces, like plane cockpits. Another possibility, in partnership with Reprocover, consists in retransforming highly resistant thermoset parts for cable trays intended for railways, which are now made of concrete. Ultimately, part of crushed products can be distributed in horticultural fields. “Most of our product is composed of urea, the most popular component in slow-release flower fertilizers.

Now, as regards recycling on the part of consumers, the product can be sorted, but it cannot be recycled, due to its small size. The same actually goes for all perfume and cosmetics caps. But since the product benefits from recycling systems, Technicaps offers a collection, sorting, and valorization solution with Terracycle. “Today, we are the only ones to be able to offer 100% recyclable products, because we have solutions available to recycle them on an industrial scale, as well as a collection service apart from the standard system,” adds Arnaud Revel.

Finally, it should be said that to produce one tonne of Bakelite, 1.14 tonne of CO2 is emitted, which is still three times less than to make one tonne of mass-produced thermosets.

Kristel Milet

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