Global manufacturer of additives, colours and compounds for the plastics industry, Tosaf Compounds focuses intensely on its R&D efforts and the application of innovative solutions to serious problems. CEO Asaf Eylon discusses the company's services that can help improve the packaging industry and fight global food waste, while Packaging & Converting Intelligence investigates its new humidity absorbers, which can upgrade polyethylene-based packaging to active-packaging solutions.
If pressed for a single imperative guiding his company's strategy, Asaf Eylon, CEO of Tosaf Compounds, would likely mention the pursuit of the "product of tomorrow". By this, he means communicating with customers to discover their needs - current and future alike: "We are always searching for missing packaging functionalities to provide knowledgeable solutions."
With 11 production sites worldwide, and sales offices and distributors in more than 40 countries, Tosaf Compounds is growing quickly and globally. The company is a big player in the plastics industry, with an annual turnover of about €300 million and a production capacity of over 120,000t. Its origins are in Israel, but it is quickly expanding its reach across the globe with presence in the US, parts of Europe and China. To ensure the continued realisation of the product of the future, the company places great value in R&D.
"To penetrate a new market with a standard portfolio is not enough," Eylon says. "Especially today, when the market is so dynamic and trends are always requesting innovation, we believe that we have to invest in R&D."
The company has certainly lived out its beliefs. "Our activity in R&D is divided into several fields of expertise. Each field is led by a highly experienced PhD, and a team of engineers and chemists," Eylon says. "Each team is dedicated to knowing and understanding the market through direct contact with customers."
The R&D teams meet customers to learn about their needs, and participate in leading global conferences to learn more about market trends and find new solutions for the industry.
The company also has an analytical laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment, including commercial-scale extruders, and injection, multilayer and cast machines. This allows Tosaf to simulate its customers' processes and provide a complete solution without requiring on-premise trials that take up unnecessary time.
Tosaf's R&D facilities have yielded one particularly intriguing product: an anti-fog additive. The anti-fog's power lies in what it does to a product's aesthetic. Consider meat or cheese - when water droplets appear on packaging, customers assume the product is not fresh. Anti-fog eliminates these droplets and preserves the fresh look.
Beyond aesthetics, a good anti-fog will last longer with high transparency even in less-than-optimal storage conditions. "Anti-fog has to be active at the right time." Eylon explains. "And the right time is when the food is packed and sent to the supermarket refrigerators. Starting the anti-fog mechanism and not losing any properties or appearance during the logistics chain is very important."
Longevity is something that Eylon values highly. The company is constantly searching for better ways of extending the shelf life of food products through additives that control humidity and oxygen.
"A third of food is thrown away every day because of limited shelf life," he says. "But a large portion of the world's population is starving. If we can somehow bridge this gap, it will contribute to a better world. Overcoming the world's hunger is a global challenge, and Tosaf is part of that process."
Tosaf works on finding creative solutions for persistent problems that beset the packaging industry, but it also ensures that it supplies standard products such as processing aids, anti-block and slip products, or UV and white masterbatch products. This means that customers can treat Tosaf as a one-stop shop.
"We see ourselves as a company that can provide the newest solutions and the products of tomorrow to the packaging industry," says Eylon, "to help clients save resources, increase shelf life and optimise the appearance of the final product inside the package."
High-barrier packaging is common in many sectors of the packaging industry, used to prolong the shelf life of a variety of sensitive items, such as dry food or medication. As even high-barrier packaging is not completely impermeable to gas, undesired molecules will eventually migrate through the packaging and reach a critical level that could negatively affect the properties of the packed goods.
Tosaf Compounds is introducing effective humidity absorbers designed to upgrade any standard polyethylene-based package to one with active-packaging properties. They can be incorporated into multilayered films to improve barrier properties for food product and medication packaging.
In demanding cases, active packaging can reduce the risk of migration. With Tosaf's humidity absorbers, the package chemically or physically absorbs the undesired gaseous substances that manage to migrate through the barrier.
In addition, by combining high-barrier films with active-packaging masterbatches, the shelf life of sensitive goods can be further increased and costs reduced by replacing glass or aluminium containers with lightweight smart-plastic packages.
In the past few years, Tosaf has been studying the field of active packaging - focusing on humidity absorbers - to increase the effectiveness of barrier packages. Tosaf offers two products for incorporation into multilayered films:
HA7482PE: designed to absorb the humidity that permeates through a package; to be incorporated into the core layer.
HA7487PE: designed to boost the barrier performance of the package and absorb unwanted humidity from the head space; can also be used in mono or co-extruded films where core layers are not available.
Tosaf's humidity absorbers can be used to improve the barrier properties of any polyethylene films or be laminated to barrier films. Preliminary tests showed that the absorption capacity of HA7482PE is greater than HA7487PE's, and demonstrated a constant absorbing rate over time at 23°C and 50% relative humidity.
When different combinations of HA7482PE and HA7487PE were incorporated into A/B/A film structures, the absorption rate increased with the amount of HA7482PE (films A, B and C). An addition of 10% of HA7487PE into the skin layers demonstrated similar absorption behaviour as film C, with 30% HA7482PE, but with increased initial absorption rate (film D).
After 55 days, in the combinations represented in films C and D, 0.5g of humidity was absorbed. According to this result, the films were able to absorb up to 45 times the humidity content in 1L of air (at 23°C and 50% relative humidity). This can be highly useful for reclosable packages.
The results show how Tosaf's new humidity absorbers can increase the performance of commercial packages, prolonging the shelf lives of sensitive packed items and reducing the amount of food waste with considerably low effort.