Processor Report: Vietnamese packaging maker expands boundaries

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Founded in 1992, Vietnamese manufacturer of laminated flexible packaging, Thanh Phu Plastic Packaging, is a newbie in the plastics packaging sector in the country. Yet, the company is adopting progressive trends, such as making it easier for the recycling of laminated packaging.

Recycling of laminated packaging has been a long-standing challenge for the packaging industry because of the mix of complex materials that make up the structure. The cost and effort required to separate the polyolefin layer from the laminates, like PET, PA, EVOH or OPP, are complex and an issue for packaging recycling companies.

Thus, to address the market’s demand for a more readily recyclable alternative to conventional laminated structures, Ho Chi Minh-located Thanh Phu collaborated with US materials firm ExxonMobil Chemical to push the boundaries for a 100% PE solution that can be recycled in the same collection stream as PE.

Thanh Phu was able to produce the new packaging by using Example-of-laminated-packaging ExxonMobil’s new Exceed XP and Enable mLLDPE polymers and by applying its proprietary Veloflex film conversion technology.

Especially suited for use in pouches, this full-PE film alternative is comparable to traditional laminated films in terms of aesthetics and integrity, say the firms. For instance, the full-PE solution exhibits outstanding mechanical properties, such as competitive modulus and bag-drop performance, compared to PA-laminated film at the same film thickness. It also features improved optics, such as high gloss and transparency. Plus, good thickness variation control is possible, compared to conventional PET films.

“This is a true synergy between material science and conversion technology innovation,” says Alex Dam, Executive Vice-President at Thanh Phu. “We have changed the cradle-to-grave cycle into a more responsible cradle-to-cradle concept.

Our aim is to have a full PE alternative to conventional laminated solutions without compromising performance, while maintaining an attractive cost-efficiency ratio.”

Thanh Phu mainly manufactures flexible packaging, especially for food and hygiene, serving key global brand owners in the Asia-Pacific and OCEANIA regions.

It is also looking at expanding the usage of the all-PE packaging to seafood packaging to replace the current nylon/PE laminated packaging.


More recently, in a collaboration with ExxonMobil, Thanh Phu produced a 100% PE/PE laminated standup pouch, using Veloflex technology, for Unicharm Vietnam.

To be able to produce the latest types of films, Thanh Phu has the latest blown film line from Germanybased Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H). It also has the latest printing technology from W&H: Heliostar S gravure press, installed in 2016.

According to Dam, Veloflex technology is a turn-key solution that is offered to brand owners to meet their packaging recyclability requirements, and it involves all the steps “from extrusion to printing and downstream processing,” he adds.

When asked how the Veloflex technology is used to produce better quality films, Dam replies, “The specific orientation of polymers under the extrusion process provides a good balance of mechanical properties for both MD and TD direction (this is different from the MDO process as normally seen in the market).”

Furthermore, Dam says Thanh Phu is aiming at providing brand owners with 100% PE/PE solution to meet their packaging recyclability commitments while maintaining a competitive cost/efficiency ratio.

Meanwhile, at the K2016 show last year, ExxonMobil launched two new grades of Exceed XP PE aimed at films for greenhouse, food lamination and softshrink applications. Another four new Exceed XP grades were launched at the Chinaplas show in Shanghai in April 2016. It also showcased Enable 40-02 performance polymers for compression packaging and geomembranes, as well as a range of low viscosity Vistamaxx performance polymers for home and consumer products and an array of other applications.

“With new grades, we’re expanding our recently launched Exceed XP performance polymers portfolio,” said Cindy Shulman, Plastics and Resins Vice-President, ExxonMobil. “Customers will now have an even more powerful toolkit to grow their businesses.”


Shulman also said the new grades were launched after a survey with customers on the current trends and needs. “There are two mega-trends in the industry currently: quality and cost-effectiveness. And we work with partners to translate these onto the market.”

Thus, the ability to replace conventional laminated packaging with packaging that can be recycled will allow the industry to take a significant step towards food-lamination developing solutions with more benefits that consumers are demanding.

“We hope to develop the Veloflex technology into a full scale solution to address the flexible packaging recyclability requirements of the market. The “new plastics economy” concept recently introduced at the World Economic Forum in Davos has given a true validation to our initiatives,” Dam concludes.


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