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Technology // Alloys & Coatings

ITRI conference reviews latest tinplate innovations

Friday, 07 October 2016

ITRI's 11th International Tinplate Conference held in London October 5th & 6th 2016 showcased the latest innovations in tinplate production and use, demonstrating the unique ability of tinplate to adapt to fast-changing and demanding market drivers.

ITRI has hosted the conference every four years since 1976 and it is well respected in the industry as a unique forum for tracking market and technology changes in tinplate. 130 delegates attended from 27 countries, including representatives from most major tinplate companies and key supply chain players.

ITRI Technology head Dr Jeremy Pearce commented: "Once again this milestone event has clearly highlighted tinplate packaging as best suited to meet new sustainability goals of the future Circular Economy, including reducing food waste, with production technologies also adapting well to be cleaner and more resource efficient. This conference helps fulfil a key objective for ITRI, representing the tin industry, to bring tin using industries together, accelerating and highlighting innovations that will further strengthen competitive position."

Industry organisations APEAL and MPMA clearly showed the unique position of tinplate packaging in its ability to match recently announced Circular Economy goals as a 'permanent' material that is recycled indefinitely in steel plants to make new products. Tinplate recycling rates are already the highest of any packaging material but the industry has set itself even greater targets of 80% recycling and zero landfill by 2020. Leading canmaker Crown showed that tinplate packaging is also well positioned to tackle the shocking problem of food waste – in Europe alone the food wasted could feed 200 million people.

On production technologies Japanese and South Korean companies NSENGI and Dongbu detailed optimization of new high efficiency tinplating lines using inert anodes with tin granules instead of tin anodes. Leading electrolyte suppliers Dow Chemicals and Quaker discussed the growth of new cleaner MSA systems replacing PSA technology. Twenty five of 148 lines globally had converted by 2016, representing 30% of global tinplate production and this trend is expected to continue.

European producers Tata Steel and thyssenkrupp Rasselstein announced results of their collaboration project TCCT, to produce a new REACH-compliant Tin-Free Steel (TFS) product, made with iridium-coated inert electrodes from Magneto, who also presented. TFS is used in around one-third of steel packaging. REACH-compliant tinplate developments were also outlined by ITRI.

Other innovations included developments in 2-piece DI cans from Baoshan Iron & Steel, China, with early evaluation of laminated steel technologies for food cans. Research organisation Fraunhofer Germany showed how modelling had been used to develop new laser-welded aerosol cans and Pannier Corporation detailed latest advances in line marking equipment. Leading lacquer supplier PPG presented work on lacquer chemistries to prevent tomato staining, while SSICA, Italy gave a fascinating account of research to develop new 'natural' bioplastic lacquers made from tomatoes.

Presentations from the conference, including additional market information on tin and tinplate prices and trends and responsible sourcing of tin, will be made available by ITRI.

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