Making sure you make the grade

27 May 2014

The paper industry is facing an increasing raft of legislation to add to the environmental
requirements already addressed.

Within the paper and board industry there is an ever increasing need for faster turnaround on orders. Converters are facing widening ranges of products for consumers looking to constantly increase their choices, and having to meet this need against a backdrop of multiple material grades needing to go through the same machinery. Making the paper at the right grade, with the right structure and integrity at the right price on time for the customer continues to drive innovation and need in this market.

One of the main areas for paper and board in 2014 will be for food contact. To understand more about the food contact guidelines, Converting Today spoke with Jori Ringman of CEPI.

Converting Today: What is happening at EU level with food contact and how is CEPI leading?

Jori Ringman: Paper is no stranger to food. From tea bags to butter wrapping and dry food cartons to liquid packaging board, there is a multitude of food related applications for paper and board products. The health and safety implications of food contact are of course taken very seriously by the paper industry. Where it comes to consumer protection, the sector has co-operated at national government and EU level for many years and complies with EC regulation 1935/2004, which covers all materials which come in contact with food.

Some materials which come into contact with food are subject to additional, material-specific legal measures which apply uniformly throughout the EU, such as cellulose film, plastics and ceramics. As paper is considered a safe material, no harmonised measures have yet been put in place on a European level for paper and board.

In the absence of a harmonised EU measure for paper and board, some European Member States have taken action to regulate the paper and board nationally, with potentially significant undesirable effects to the sector. Furthermore, the unintended impression
given to buyers is that compliance is less clear for paper and board than for other materials.

Introducing the food contact guideline Against this background, the European paper packaging value chain has compiled a voluntary Industry Guideline for the Compliance of Paper and Board Materials and Articles for Food Contact (the Industry Guideline). CEPI also published Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for the industry. The Industry Guideline spells out the rules, and the GMP describes a management system to be able to obey those rules.

The GMP is not an optional build-on to the Industry Guideline, current legislation requires all food contact materials to be manufactured in accordance to GMP. For companies in countries where industry-specific legislation already exists, the Industry Guideline will act as an additional source of information.

These paper and board guidelines should ideally be integrated into existing management systems of paper and board producers. For instance, the GMP assumes that operators the ISO 9001 quality management system or equivalent in place. The Industry Guideline and GMP, however, focus on those aspects of quality assurance that ensure paper and board meets the quality standards appropriate to its intended use and will not endanger human health.

The Industry Guideline offers flexibility to allow for its use in different processes and materials, and it facilitates straight forward auditing. It is based on realistic risk assessment and is specifically applicable to the manufacture of paper and board food contact material. There is no additional administrative burden for responsible producers. In some cases the Industry Guideline might even reduce the testing burden, as it contains rules which allow a reduction in testing frequency in certain areas.

For the moment, paper manufacturing companies, representing more than half of the European production of packaging grades, and major converting companies covering a large share of the European paper based packaging production implemented the Industry Guideline since 2010. Many other papermakers and converters are in the process of adopting it in their operations, and audits have also been reported to take place.

A first revision of the guidelines included a few updates that were deemed important to food contact material handling due to:

the coming into force of Commission Regulation on plastics materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, (EC) No 10/2011)

the update of German Recommendation on paper and board for food contact (BfR Rec. XXXVI), and

the concerns over the presence of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food

The Industry Guideline is a moving document, capable of being modified quickly in the light of scientific advances.

Converting Today: What will the European Commission do?

Jori Ringman: Whereas Europe's paper industry has found the experience gained with the Industry Guideline and the GMP very positive, it shares the views of other relevant industry sectors, in particular the food producers in Europe, that producing a harmonised legal measure for paper and board in contact with food should nevertheless be a priority for the European Commission.

The Directorate General (DG) responsible for Health and Consumer Protection is about to launch a Roadmap on its next work items which might include harmonising measures for paper and board for food contact at the EU level. It is likely that the Industry Guideline and the experience gained with it will serve as a basis for these measures.

Board production
Designed especially for luxury end-uses, Metsä Board's new Carta Allura cartonboard is said to have exceptional smoothness making it ideal for foil lamination, high gloss varnish and other special effects. It also offers high brightness and "an attractive visual
appearance that creates the right impression when used for premium products", and is most suitable for beautycare, high end food and beverages, and graphic applications.

According to the manufacturer, Carta Allura is lightweight yet firm, giving more cartons per tonne and enhancing sustainability. Its consistency and stiffness "make production processes trouble-free"; and its reverse side is also coated to ensure a good finish to the inside of the carton.

International Paper's recently completed an investment project at its Polish Kwidzyn mill to further enhance its product quality and service platform for the coated board market in EMEA. The investment rebuilt the mill's coated board machine to enable the production of lighter-weight grades, as well as adding two new sheeters to eliminate current limitations in finishing capacity. Sheeting operations have continued un-interrupted during the time of the rebuild.

Michael Krueger, International Paper's commercial director for coated paperboard & recycled specialties, says: "The ability to
produce lighter-weight board grades responds directly to the growing demand for economically attractive and environmentally sustainable packaging solutions. The additional sheeting capacity will allow for even greater flexibility and shorter lead times. We worked extremely closely with our customers and took all necessary steps to ensure uninterrupted supply and service during the rebuild."

The Arktika and Alaska ranges have remianed available with unchanged technical specifications both during and after the rebuild. International Paper intends to develop and progressively introduce additional differentiated lightweight grades from the second quarter of 2014 onwards.

MeadWestvaco (MWV) has launched Evertain, a hermetically sealable, airtight paperboard package for foods that require protection from oxygen and moisture.

According to the company, Evertain combines a specially sealed inner seam with barrier coating to preserve freshness and extend shelf life.

Available in four reclosable sizes, and made from 100% chain of custody certified fibre, the range includes round and non-round
varieties with customisable levels of barrier against oxygen and moisture. The Evertain on-the-go snack cup has the added feature of portability, and is designed to fit in standard car cup holders, a feature that "has been shown to lead to increased snacking occasions", MWV says.

Evertain is 60% lighter than comparably sized composite and metal cans, the company says, and its nestability allows eight times as many empty packages to be stored in the same space, reducing warehousing space and the number of trucks needed for transport. Evertain containers also permit direct printing of graphics, "eliminating the need for excess labels and packaging".

Barrier protection
Paper based packaging company Smurfit Kappa is to unveil a new system that prevents the migration of mineral oil hydrocarbons from packaging into food products.

The patented Catcher Board MB12 uses a method that creates a blocking mechanism across the whole surface area of the packaging, including at the 'cut edges' of the board.

Responding fully to prospective legislation that Germany plans to introduce, that would prohibit measurable migration of mineral oil hydrocarbons into food, Catcher Board MB12 will be introduced as White Lined Chipboard and Solid Board.

According to Smurfit Kappa, Catcher Board MB12 is unlike other barrier solutions, and is made using natural ingredients, adhering to the company's "industry leading sustainability standards". A spokesperson says: "In addition to blocking mineral oil migration across the whole surface area of the packaging, this new product looks, feels and reacts just like normal board during the manufacturing process.

"This means that Smurfit Kappa customers will not have to change any of their packaging processes. If European legislation relating to materials in contact with food is introduced, we believe we will be in a position to offer an innovative product to our customers that will meet new regulatory requirements."



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