"Gitto Global has already commercialized some nanocomposite plastic compounds that provide significant advantages over traditional flame-retardant packages, including greater strength, lower overall weight and are more environmentally friendly from a recycle and halogen-exposure standpoint," said Peter Maul, president of Nanocor. "With closer co-operation, we expect to see products for a wider variety of polyolefins and the use of nanotechnology in more applications."

The companies say that the composites, which incorporate plastics such as polypropylene and EVA (ethylene-vinylacetate copolymer), use significantly smaller quantities of traditional flame-retardant additives. As a result, the materials have a lower specific gravity and greater strength, while "maintaining superior flame resistance".

Nanocor, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMCOL International, claims to be the largest global supplier of nanoclays specifically designed for plastic nanocomposites. The company began commercial nanoclay production in 1998.