Toluene has earned disrepute globally for its dangerous toxicological profile. The manifold adverse effects make it an issue related to consumer safety, occupational safety and environmental safety.
Due to its developmental toxicity, toluene is officially classified as CMR category 2 (suspected of damaging the unborn child) in the EU. Furthermore, when printing with toluene-based inks, there is an imminent risk of residual toluene in packaging being transferred to the packed food and beverages which impacts the organoleptic properties of the product thus leading to food quality and safety as well as legal compliance issues.
Thus, in an internal meeting on 25 July 2018, the BIS had decided to restrict the use of toluene, titanium acetylacetonate and phthalates in the printing of packaging materials used for food products. This was informed by Partha Pratim Sanyal, independent consultant and convener at BIS panel on packaging inks during a PackPlus 2018 conclave in New Delhi. And in its revised draft of 2020, the ban has now been officially implemented.
Ashish Pradhan, president – India and Greater China, Siegwerk, said, “The BIS announcement to ban toluene in food packaging inks, is a landmark development. The steps taken by BIS towards promoting food safety are very commendable and progressive. We welcome this move. India will now join the list of countries that do not use Toluene in food packaging inks.”
Siegwerk has banned the use of toluene across global operations including India. Its manufacturing unit at Bhiwandi recently completed two years of 100% toluene-free manufacturing operations.
In addition, the ink major has made significant investments in its process and machinery to change to toluene-free production ensuring zero cross-contamination from toluene-based products. “This also means our products are already meeting the toluene ban regulations and customers will benefit as they do not have to experience any downtime, that could have otherwise resulted due to adjustments in the process or upgrading of technology, to meet the regulatory requirements,” Pradhan added.