PACKAGING has been limited to an outsourced activity for most brand owners. However, globalisation and digitisation have given a new perspective on packaging safety to the entire packaging supply chain. Consumers now are more aware and emphasis laid by brand owners and authorities on packaging safety has, therefore, seen a positive drift over past few years.
It has been well acknowledged by partners of the supply chain that packaging compliance can only be assured by following an integrated approach between converter, substrate manufacturers, ink manufacturers and others. Further implications of this integrated approach also mean a careful selection of partners in the supply chain, considering their understanding of compliance and approach that they deploy to ensure compliance consistently.
The packaging industry in Bangladesh has constantly been evolving, but the same has not been the case for packaging inks. The scenario is, however, changing on the market where innovations are made to produce migration optimised inks suitable for food packaging, pharmaceutical products and other consumer goods. It would mean a shift from toluene-based inks to toluene-free inks and mineral oil-based inks to mineral oil-free inks and much more.
Safe packaging inks
SAFE packaging inks are inks formulated with a careful selection of raw materials in accordance with legal requirements of the region, brand owner requirements and commitment of ink manufacturers.
Ink manufacturers need to be aware of the legal requirements, relevant for a particular region, for packaging inks and must build systematic processes to ensure the delivery of consistent and safe products. If the packaging material needs to be exported, the legal requirements of the importing country must also be given due consideration.
Ink manufacturers not only need to select the raw materials carefully but also keep themselves updated on changing legal and other requirements as well as the reclassification of used raw materials. In addition to that, ink manufacturers also need to validate the migrants for the worst-case calculation and to share the results transparently with downstream stakeholders for the risk assessment of the packaging material.
Brand owners, with their global footprints, sometimes have their own specific requirements for packaging safety beyond the legal requirements of the countries, especially developing countries such as Bangladesh. Each of the supply chain partner, including ink manufacturers, needs to be aware of such requirements and upgrade the products to comply with the norms to offer the same level of consumer safety across all regions.
An ink manufacturer is responsible for their products and formulation. Hence, it becomes the ethical responsibility of supply chain partners to deliver safe products, with only safe chemicals in their formulations, and also update the authorities and brand owners on such initiatives to benefit society at large. Ink manufacturers need to demonstrate self-commitment to packaging safety even if it means going beyond the legal obligations for the region.
Compliance can never be achieved through an isolated approach since each packaging structure is a mixture of different components, including substrate, ink and varnishes, and, hence, a responsible ink manufacturer should openly and transparently communicate across the supply chain on the requirements as well as on the risk assessment of the individual components of the packaging inks, whenever required.
Jatin Takkar is head of product safety at Siegwerk.