Tough Challenges, Technology-Driven Solutions
By Soehari Liono
Head of Regional Marketing for Polymer Dispersions for Paper Coatings, Fiberbonding & Product Management
Dispersions and Resins Asia Pacific, BASF
Sustainability and food safety have recently become more prominent topics in the packaging industry. Higher requirements for food packaging coated grades are being seen in the Asian market. China is one of the leading producers of coated grades for food packaging, looking for new sustainable approaches to meet the ever increasing food safety regulation requirements.
Trend towards Zero Odor, low VOCs, GB9685 compliance with no compromise on quality
Conventionally, these food packaging grades are required to comply with FDA (USA) and BfR (Germany) regulations. However, China has recently set additional food safety regulations. This new food safety standard for Food Contact Materials (FCMs) in China is GB 9685-2008 (GB9685) which specifies the hygienic standard for use of additives in food containers and packaging materials.
GB 9685 recommends that companies check if they have added specific food contact additives into FCMs and confirm the required test items. In addition to that, the conventional VOC (Volatile Organic Component) measurement which was based on 21 components is now being carried out using 26 components.
The paper and board customers are also facing huge challenges from their end users including printers and convertors who want to deliver odor free coated board grades during their printing & converting process while maintaining excellent printing quality.
Pressure is on
This has raised the bar for suppliers who need to meet the stringent food safety requirements for various grades and processes while maintaining excellent printability. Suppliers are searching for competent partners who can solve their problems by offering the right sustainable chemistry.
Basonal® FCB, Technology-driven Solutions
To respond to the current market needs and to address the challenges of its customers, BASF recently developed its novel 3-in-1 Basonal® Food Contact Board product line, in short: Basonal® FCB, tailor-made for the specific requirements in food contact materials. This brand-new product line will be launched very soon and offers (1) unprecedented odor free lattices with lowest possible total VOC levels which are not only (2) fully GB 9685 compliant but also enable (3) excellent printability.
It can be used in a wide range of applications including but not limited to hamburger or noodle boxes, popcorn buckets, sushi packages. Moreover, it provides versatile packaging design options allowing complex shapes and high quality color printing. Basonal® FCB offers the ultimate flexibility thanks to its unique performance properties. It will be available for supply from its state-of-the-art dispersions plants located close to the leading food contact board producers in China.
Developing Basonal® FCB has not been an easy task. It is the result of an in-depth cross-functional research and development project carried out at BASF’s comprehensive R&D facilities in Innovation Campus in Shanghai. It serves as BASF’s technology backbone which was inaugurated in November 2012 and recently upgraded further, housing approximately 600 researchers.
Keeping abreast with regulatory changes, the project team identified and eliminated none permitted food contact additives from the current latex after carrying out a thorough analysis process where every “nut, bolt and screw” was turned for its GB9685 compliance and odor impact in the final product. For example, BASF minimized the amounts of the key odor-causing components 4-Phenylcyclohexene (4-PCH) and 4-Vinylcyclohexene (4-VCH) that are typically found in conventional styrene-butadiene chemistry to almost non-detectible levels and eliminated other crucial additives used during the polymerization process that were identified as potential sources of strong odor coming from the converting and UV printing process.
In addition, further optimizations were carried out in its cutting-edge manufacturing process to encapsulate all the requirements needed for the high quality coated paper and board. Besides GB9685, this new range of lattices also complies with all other relevant standards including European Commission, FDA, BfR.
Your Partner in Packaging Industry
Besides the new range of Basonal® FCB products which is tailor-made for the specific requirements of food contact materials and will be available soon for mills for further qualifications, BASF had already upgraded its standard portfolio for the paper industry (known as Styronal® and Acronal®) in 2016 by adding GB 9685 compliant versions including Styronal® ES 7900, Styronal® ES 7902, Styronal® ES 7936, and Acronal® S 728 ap. The Styronal® ES grades are already widely used in food packaging grades across China. Acronal® S 728 ap is a well-established product from BASF, which is used by nearly all major liquid packaging board producers across the globe.
Meeting increasing demands from customers in the packaging industry and offering tailor-made solutions for them require the right technical expertise. Basonal® FCB is a good example that demonstrates BASF’s commitment to helping customers meet industry standards, and thus, supporting their long term success.