Graphene packs a lot of promise for the plastics industry. It has the potential to enhance the mechanical properties of plastics, making them more durable and resilience and therefore suitable for a wider range of applications. By enhancing the durability, weight, and lifespan of plastic products, graphene can also minimise plastic waste. Additionally, graphene-based materials may be the silver bullet for plastic recycling woes.
Brazil-based Gerdau Graphene, a unit of the Brazil’s largest steel maker Gernau, is exploiting this promise with a new graphene-enhanced plastic packaging for nails. The new packaging incorporates 1% Poly-G PE-07GM, the company’s first masterbatch that enriches polyethylene (PE) with graphene. Last week, the packaging received a silver award at the Brazilian Packaging Awards in the technology category.
The masterbatch Poly-G is suitable for producing films, profiles, and sheets formed through extrusion processes. This July, Gerdau Graphene and Packseven, a Brazilian flexible film producer, announced the development of the world’s first graphene-enhanced stretch film using the masterbatch.
Thermoplastic products created using Poly-G PE-07GM are reportedly stronger and offer greater overall performance while reducing costs and plastic waste. Improved mechanical properties include a 25.3% reduction in packaging weight and thickness and 39% decrease in perforation in the nail packaging. Gerdau estimates its direct plastic consumption will be cut by around 25%, or by over 72 tons per year, by switching to the new graphene-induced PE packaging.
The new packaging was jointly developed by the steel and graphene experts at Gerdau and Gerdau Graphene. Gerdau's portfolio of nails is produced with 100% recyclable steel, using raw materials from the recycling of ferrous scrap.