CHICAGO — TC Transcontinental Packaging announced Sept. 27 it has opened a new innovation facility in Menasha, Wis. The ASTRA — Art, Science, and Technology Research and Application — Center spans 12,200 square feet and will house more than 20 engineers working to solve challenges and stoke packaging innovations for the company’s customers.

The center includes four state-of-the-art research and development labs, including the Analytical and Testing Services Lab, the Applications and Packaging Development Lab, the Advanced Compost Lab and the Recycling Technology Lab.

TC Transcontinental will focus on developing compostable, recyclable and recycled content packaging with an emphasis on speed to market, concept to commercialization, performance, cost and developing turnkey solutions.

“Over the past years, we have aligned our investments and strategy to meet our customers objectives and goals,” said Alex Hayden, senior vice president of R&D, innovation and sustainability. “The ASTRA Center is at the core of our operations to drive growth and innovation and be the sustainability partner to our customers. The many tests, instruments, and technology available to us provide enhanced product development knowledge through the entire process of flexible plastic packaging design, allowing the development of innovative films for sustainability, e-commerce, and more.”

The Analytical and Testing Services Lab will perform physical package testing for the entire life cycle of the package, including shelf life and end-use applications.

The Applications and Packaging Development Lab houses a nine-layer blown extrusion line and form/fill/seal equipment to optimize various packaging designs and film compositions.

The Advanced Compost Lab will work specifically to certify cost and turnaround times for compostable packaging solutions. The lab has been independently accredited to meet ISO 17025 standards and meet ASTM 6400 standards for compostable packaging, the company stated.

The Recycling Technology Lab is still in the works but expected to be fully operational in 2022. This lab will conduct in-house recyclability assessments, measuring packaging solutions against compatibility standards. It will house an extruder, a recycled plastic palletizer and equipment for analyzing post-consumer resin content, waste source and gel count.

Additionally, the center will leverage insights from a team of sustainability experts, brand owners and retailers to develop innovative packaging solutions optimized for today’s market trends and demands for sustainability.

The ASTRA Center plays directly into TC Transcontinental Packaging’s mission to transition 100% of its packaging portfolio to recyclable, compostable or reusable materials. The company also hopes to reach a 10% average use of post-consumer recycled content throughout its plastic packaging portfolio.

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