Made in India: Barrier Coatings from Empowera Technorganics

Empowera believes barrier coatings can be 100% recycled. The Delhi-based company has developed water-based functional coatings as an alternative to PE coatings/ plastic film lamination. Which is why, food, pharma products, cosmetics can be packaged with it. Rahul Kumar reports

25 Oct 2021 | By Rahul Kumar

With over 35 years of experience, Delhi-based Empowera Technorganics has been transforming the use of water-based emulsions in adhesives and coatings across industries with a specific focus on the printing and packaging industry. The company recently developed a line of products for barrier coating application which will enable reduction of plastics in the packaging industry and enhance sustainability. Functional and barrier coatings have been used to enhance the properties and performance of paper and paperboard products for many decades.

With technological advancements, Empowera now has water-based high performance barrier coatings which helps make repulpable/ recyclable paper for use in food packaging, packaging for eCommerce deliveries, packages for food delivery services, paper cups, paper plates, alkali resistant soap wrappers and a variety of other applications which have till date used some form of plastic-coated or laminated materials.

Rahul Mahajan, vice-president, sales and marketing, Empowera Technogranics, says, “At Empowera, our focus is on promoting sustainability in all segments and industries we cater to. Barrier coatings, food grade compliant and repulpable water-based systems for adhesives and specialised coatings are our way towards a better future for us and generations to come.

Promoting sustainability
Empowera offers a range of solutions for creating barrier properties in paper and paperboard. The products can be used for multiple end-uses, including replacing polyethylene, fluorochemicals or waxes in food packaging, paper cups, plates, wrapping paper, etc. All the products are offered ready to use and the viscosity can be adjusted depending on the application. The products satisfy FDA & EU regulations which ensure consumer safety and endproduct sustainability.

Launched in early 2020, the products are made from acrylic co-polymers which are 100% repulpable and recyclable. The products form a protective layer on paper and other substrates which provide water, oil and grease resistance for a variety of applications.

Mahajan says barrier coatings are designed to replace plastics from certain applications in packaging to enhance sustainability in this industry. “The utilisation of plastic items has expanded exponentially in the past decades. Most of the forms of plastics are non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to decompose. Although, there is some recyclability in plastics, in countries like India, with poor waste collection and segregation practices, most plasticcoated/ laminated products end up in ever increasing garbage dumps,” he explains.

Thus, these products are aimed at stakeholders in the paper manufacturing and converting supply chain. This includes paper mills looking to provide barrier coated paper for food packaging and other applications, all general and food packaging converters who are willing to reduce plastic use in their offerings to enhance sustainability and meet the customer and policy demands that are coming up in various industries.

The coatings
Empowera’s E-Aqua series of water-based functional coatings for paper, film, foil or other substrates offer a variety of features such as high-gloss, matt, anti-slip, water and grease resistance, alcohol resistance, high adhesion, soft touch, anti-blocking, anti-microbial and others for our customer’s top coat requirements. The products offer fast processing and extend the life of printed substrates.

The high-quality waxes, wetting agents, levelling agents and other additives used in these products help us control product performance characteristics, such as foaming, slip properties, gloss or scuff resistance.

Empowera also provides UV curable coatings under the brand name ECUV for a variety of substrates to provide finishing of the highest level and protection of the surface underneath. UV coatings cure under UV light by chain polymerisation process forming a highly crosslinked structure within seconds.

The range of coatings provides the customers with different performance characteristics with respect to reactivity, gloss, scratch resistance, chemical resistance, flexibility, viscosity and machineability. The products are made from carefully chosen raw materials so as to enhance safety of use and minimise yellowing tendencies. All the coatings have 100% solids, thereby, minimising VOCs and providing 100% utilisation of products. The company also provides tailor-made products on demand as per customer’s requirements enabled by its in-house UV coating and curing equipment, coupled with experienced R&D team and welltrained staff.

The market
Mahajan says with rising awareness, the Indian packaging industry is already taking up the mantle to remove plastics (especially single-use plastic) in the printing and packaging industry and these products are a step in the direction. “The products are cost-effective and a suitable alternative to PE coatings/ plastic film lamination in a variety of applications, including short-term food packaging,” he says. He adds that the product is gaining traction all over the globe.

“Our products have been designed to perform well on a variety of required parameters,” he says.

The paper with such a barrier is usually used for food packaging applications, such as paper cups, paper plates, along with envelopes, eCommerce delivery packages and others.

Mahajan says good performance and ease of use with current application technology are the main USPs of this product. “Currently, a large share of the barrier coatings market is dominated by PE-coated paper products. It is extremely difficult to separate such plastics from paper and leads to wastage of both paper and plastics which end up in garbage dumps. We offer water-based coatings that are designed to simplify the paper recycling process as the coating itself becomes a part of paper fibres on re-pulping, thereby leading to excellent recyclability and minimal wastage,” he explains.

Reiterating that it is an easy-to-use product, he says, for certain applications, such as food packaging, the company recommends customers to follow the requisite hygiene guidelines and industry standards to ensure the final article is fit to use in direct food contact applications. The company believes that sustainability in the packaging industry is of utmost importance and is being rightfully focused upon by all stakeholders involved, including manufacturers, converters and end-customers.

“A customer wants simple, clean packaging which keeps the product intact; dependable branding and eco-friendly packing materials. What a customer doesn’t want are products that appear over-packaged and wasteful; high use of plastics; leaking liquids and eon-ecofriendly packaging. Understanding this interest and focus, the government is now implementing policies to reduce plastic usage. We aim to fulfil our role in this by creating products that help us move forward on this path,” Mahajan concludes. He adds that the product is gaining “With a global movement to every country is looking for sustainable where we come in,” he adds. says, customers look for water heat-sealability/ heat-resistance, food contact status among other parameters.