Committed search non-hazardous materials
Waste Management Expo 2020 MAR 12&13 BIEC, Bengaluru, India

Committed to search for non-hazardous materials

6:08 AM, 10th June 2019
Heiner Klokkers, Chairman, European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA)
Heiner Klokkers, Chairman, European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA).

Heiner Klokkers, Chairman, European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) speaks about the opportunity in the food industry and regulation concerns related to the printing inks industry in Europe.

By Shivani Mody

Opportunities for printing inks, varnishes industry in Europe.

The opportunities for the ink industry are manifold; two of which may illustrate this:

With regard to inks for food contact materials, the ever-lasting aim of the printing ink industry is the manufacture and supply of printing inks that are fit for purpose, which means that – when correctly applied – they help ensure that the final printed food contact material can meet all aspects of consumer safety. On the one hand printing ink manufacturers select the raw materials they use according to EuPIA standards. The EuPIA Exclusion Policy for Printing Inks and Related Products is the first and overall commitment: by default, the most hazardous substances including those known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction are not used in printing inks of any kind supplied by EuPIA members in Europe. Further requirements to be followed are laid down in the EuPIA Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for food contact material inks. On top of that EuPIA members have agreed on formats how to pass relevant information further down the supply chain, which enables the converter to make his own risk and safety assessments.

Another opportunity relates to sustainability: The European Commission has launched an extensive programme towards a circular economy which also aims at higher recycling rates for packaging. The strategy naturally impacts on the future design of packaging and their recyclability. Here the ink has a role to play, and EuPIA members accept the challenge. 

R&D and innovation in the printing inks industry in Europe.

Talking sustainability, EuPIA for long has been engaged in enhancing the recyclability of printed graphic paper. Together with all partners of the graphic paper supply chain, EuPIA is a member of the European Paper Recycling Council. As part of the Council’s work, obstacles for an optimum recyclability of printed graphic paper are identified, among which UV prints are deemed to impede recycling. Member companies have reacted and recently developed UV inks with enhanced de-inking properties.

Findings of mineral oils in foodstuff have been a major concern in Europe, as effects on human health could not entirely be excluded. One of the sources of mineral oils is recycled paper and board used as packaging for foodstuffs. The waste paper from which it is made currently contains a significant proportion of used newspapers. Inks for printing newspaper (news inks) contain mineral oils as an important part of the formulation, which upon printing are absorbed by the paper (this is how printed news inks dry). Thus mineral oils may come into direct contact with foodstuffs as substances contained within the recycled paper and board, unless the packaging is designed such that transfer of the mineral oil is avoided.

Although mineral oil based news inks, as any other publication inks, are safe for their intended purpose, and although the packaging industry has taken action to minimize or avoid the transfer of mineral oils, the ink industry helps out and starts to develop mineral oil free news inks, supporting state funded projects in Germany and France.

Printing inks are tailor made products which meet individual customers’ needs. Therefore many of the innovations in the ink industry are driven by customers’ specifications, and are exclusive to them. 

Improving business activities with Asia Pacific markets.

Certainly Asia Pacific is a strongly evolving and therefore most interesting market. Many of the European Ink companies have established production sites in this region, or engage in joint ventures or trade through trading companies.

Raw material providers for the printing inks industry in Europe.

As has been the case during the past few years, the consistent supply of raw materials remains a concern for ink manufacturers. The latest issue relates to a potential shortage of photoinitiators.

We see two main causes: governmental activities and REACH-related issues.

Over the last few years the global geo-political situation has undergone a number of changes, including a shift from attempts to reduce trade barriers to ideas about increasing trade barriers. In China, where the majority of photoinitiators and their precursors are manufactured, governmental initiatives for environmental protection have prompted many suppliers to either cease or reduce production for limited periods of time. Holistically, these initiatives are to be welcomed, but they undeniably influence the availability of materials, oftentimes resulting in price increases. The supply of photoinitiators has been further impacted by major incidents; a factory fire, unforeseeable events (force majeure) at chemical plants, low stocks, unplanned maintenance and production outages – all recent examples.

The third deadline for registration under the REACH regulation having expired end of May 2018, some raw material suppliers have chosen either not to register some raw materials or to register them only for low volume usage. This has the potential to narrow the choice that ink manufacturers have when substituting photoinitiators for materials that can also suffer short term supply issues or limited applicability due to re-classification under the CLP regulation (classification, labelling and packaging), in accordance with the EuPIA Exclusion Policy.

Challenges in the printing inks industry in Europe.

For many substances contained in the raw materials used by the ink industry new toxicological information has been generated under the European REACH programme. In a number of cases these new data have triggered re-classification of the substances such that they now fall under the criteria of the Exclusion Policy. In accordance with this Policy, EuPIA members are committed to make every effort to substitute such materials with less hazardous ones. Finding alternatives remains a challenge for EuPIA members, which they are willing to accept in order to protect the health of their workers, those in the print shops and the consumers of final printed articles.

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