Marc Larvor, head of technical marketing EMEA at Siegwerk France SA, discusses the need for BPA-free ink systems and Siegwerk’s solutions addressing this industry demand.
Q: What is BPA?
Marc Larvor: BPA stands for bisphenol A, and is a chemical that has been used in the industry to harden plastics since the 1960s. It could, for example, be found in polycarbonate plastics, used in containers storing food and beverages for a long time, and in epoxy resins, often used as inner coating of metal packaging like food cans.
Q: What are the concerns with BPA?
Marc Larvor: Some studies over the time have shown that BPA can migrate into food from containers that are made out of it. It’s still unknown which concrete effects BPA can have in people. Health agencies over the world like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US continuously observe the results of further research on human health risks posed by exposure to BPA.
Q: What does this mean for the packaging industry?
Marc Larvor: Creating packaging without BPA has already became increasingly important for manufacturers over the years. In general you can say that today, brand owners and consumers expect safe food packaging that does under no circumstances contaminate the packed food or impair their health. Any migration risk of substances from the outside into the inside of the packaging needs to be limited. Product safety is the most important and challenging aspect in packaging. France was, for example, the first European country that adopted a law which generally prohibits the use of packaging materials in the food industry, if these materials are printed with BPA-containing inks or varnishes.
Q: How is Siegwerk handling this topic?
Marc Larvor: Siegwerk is a global leader in providing product safety. We have a team exclusively dedicated to safety in regards to both regulatory compliance and brand owner requirements to ensure that our products are safe for the end-use applications. The company’s packaging inks and varnishes are formulated and manufactured in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice, taking into consideration many individual and varying parameters relating to substrate, application and end use.
Siegwerk doesn’t only exclude toxic substances based on regulatory exclusion criteria, but designs all food packaging inks to minimize the potential for the transfer (migration) of ink components of concern into food, while meeting the high end-use requirements. The company has implemented a comprehensive raw material introduction process striving to achieve complete knowledge of the chemical composition of all raw materials intended for food packaging inks, down to traces in ppm range. When manufacturing our products, Siegwerk does not add any BPA as intentionally added ingredient to its formulations. Besides, we have been working proactively to replace BPA-based raw materials in printing inks for food packaging.
Q: What do you offer in terms of safe inks?
Marc Larvor: We offer manufacturers of food packaging and labels a complete range of migration optimized inks, gloss and matt varnishes as well as metallic inks for all printing processes that allow the printer to comply with the regulations. All inks and varnishes for UV applications are for example combined under the name SICURA. These printing inks contain no volatile organic compounds (VOC). They are highly reactive, robust and durable and can be used on a number of substrates such as paper, cardboard, aluminum and plastics. For food and cosmetics applications, we offer specially developed ink and varnish systems which are distinguished by extremely low migration tendencies and fulfill all legal requirements and regulations.
With the migration optimized UV ink series SICURA Nutri we, for example, concretely offer BPA-free ink series that comply with the French law. Especially, the Sicura Nutriflex 10 series is one of the safest systems on the market in terms of migration in its category, offers outstanding technical properties and is free of BPA-based raw materials.