30-09-2022 | Posted by Principia
The new law on plastic waste will come into force on January the 1st, 2023; it applies the European directive on single-use containers, taxing non-recycled plastic at 0.45 euros/kg. In this context, simulation stands out as a tool for the redesign of packaging.
There are very few ways to minimise the tax burden: either not to make single-use containers or, in case of recyclables or reusables, reduce the amount of non-recycled plastic. Since there is limited availability of recycled plastic, industry will need to concentrate in reducing weights, using smaller thicknesses but without impairing quality or performance.
Indeed, it is not only the weight that will be taxed, also its origin; this implies increasing the percentage of recycled materials, which paradoxically are not produced in sufficient quantity or quality.
In Europe, containers from the food and drink sector represent 60% of the plastic waste. It is hence essential, and not just on the grounds of cost, to reduce the amount of raw materials. Simulation, which already thinned the PET bottle, is now more needed than ever.
Many companies will be unable to assume the costs of the new law and concepts like lightweighting, 3D models and virtual tests will become key to the survival of the sector.
And how can simulation help?
Remember that the first PET bottles weighed about 72 grams, now reduced on average to some 45. But they will have to become even lighter, stronger, and more ergonomic.
Simulation software can be used for discarding, quickly and efficiently, large numbers of unsuitable designs and for selecting the more promising shapes, materials and dimensions, leading to prototypes that can be tested with good chances of success, as suggested in our post on “Finite element analysis for container approval”.
Simulation software offers the possibility of analysing the strength of any design, modelling its behaviour under all the loads it is going to face. CATIA from Dassault Systèmes allows creating a 3D model with all the variables involved in their feasibility. And, to validate the various scenarios faced, Abaqus is the best tool, as the 3D model will become a finite element mesh for its evaluation.
Realistic simulations not only decrease design times and costs by reducing the number of prototypes, they also allow selecting the lightest model that satisfies the quality and performance specifications, which for plastic containers will minimise the raw materials and the associated tax cost.
If you would like to know how simulation software can help you reduce plastic use in your products, do contact us and we will help you without any obligation.