Migration optimised ink systems: A new perspective for Indian packaging industry

Jatin Takkar of Siegwerk looks at the factors influencing brands to adopt migration optimised inks for food packaging.

09 May 2018 | By WhatPackaging? Team

The Indian packaging industry has constantly been innovating, but the same hasn’t been the case for packaging inks. However, the scenario is changing in the market where innovations are made to produce migration optimised inks suitable for food packaging, pharmaceuticals 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. 

Packaging has been limited to an outsourced activity for most brand owners. However, globalisation and digitalisation have given a new perspective on packaging safety to the entire packaging supply chain. Now consumers are more aware and hence emphasis laid by brand owners and authorities upon packaging safety has seen a steep 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 careful selection of the partners in the supply chain considering their understanding of compliance and the systematic approach to ensure compliance.

Increased awareness in the market has necessitated the movement of the packaging industry towards the careful selection of materials which form the final article of which a substantial component is the packaging ink. Packaging inks are an integral part of every packaging material visible in the market. In today’s market, there are several drivers for migration optimised ink systems (with synonyms like compliant inks, safe inks and low migration inks for the Indian market). Some of the drivers who promote increases in demand for such inks are as follows:

1.    Brand owners are sensitised on the issues that can damage the brand’s reputation
Brand owners are very vigilant, ensuring the safety of their products and hence give due diligence to topics that may impact the safety of their products. Brand owners keep upgrading themselves to assure the safety of their products to make sure that consumer trust on their product remains intact. They understand clearly that a single product safety recall would not only produce heavy costs of non-compliance but would also damage their brand reputation and affect the future sales of their product.

2.    Regulatory authorities are becoming stricter and are continuously on the lookout for any shortcomings in sustaining food safety
Authorities are consistently involved in upgrading their standards and benchmarking them based on stringent global standards. It is required to ensure that the health of consumers is not impacted and also gives more access to global markets. However, the critical point is that authorities these days are getting more vigilant than ever which puts pressure on the supply chain partners to align and deliver safe products.

3.    Developments in sustainability may counteract compliance 
Brand owners and packaging developers are constantly designing new packaging structures and utilising innovative materials. At the same time, they have high sustainability standards for their packaging. Printing ink must, therefore, be formulated to ensure that migration risk is minimised at constant ink performance. It again emphasises the need for migration optimised inks to safeguard that there is no migration of concern from the ready-made packaging.

4.    The cost-effective supply chain may ignore product safety
The Indian market has always been a competitive cost market where solutions are aimed at being cost effective to generate revenues. It, however, induces a probability where the effectiveness of barrier properties of the advanced solution is overlooked and hence again necessitates the need for migration optimised inks. It’s a well acknowledged but less realised fact that cost of non-compliance is much higher than the cost of compliance.

5.    Validation of the final article is an untold story
Several regulations across the globe emphasise on the final validation of the printed article. Such validation requires a good amount of information to be shared between the supply chain partners as well as fairly good analytical costs, which many converters tend to avoid. Migration optimised inks are not a replacement for the task but support the manufacturer to minimise migration risks and produce a safe and compliant final printed article consistently.

6.    Foreseeable direct contact is an unspoken concern
There are packaging applications where either the product comes into direct contact with packaging inks or the consumer has direct oral contact with packaging inks, and often these contacts are foreseeable. For such contacts, it’s extremely important that we use inks which are designed explicitly for the purpose (if available) or only migration optimised inks.

7.    Good manufacturing practices need control
Many packaging converters, deploy different ink systems depending upon the application and brand owner compliance requirements. However, it is always advisable to completely switch over to migration-optimised ink systems for food and food like applications considering the consumer safety. It helps converters to have better control on good manufacturing practices (GMP) and building its reputation in the market in the context of delivering safe packaging material for customers.

8.    Ethical and moral responsibility 
It is the ethical and moral responsibility of all stakeholders in the packaging chain to deliver safe packaging material when the intended application is (especially): food products, pharmaceutical products as well as other consumer products which may directly or indirectly have an impact on the health of the consumer.

9.    Packaging material itself a source
Packaging materials can itself serve as a source of hazardous components such as lead. It has been associated with glass, phthalates with metal, BPA with plastics, o-phenyl phenol with aluminium cans, mineral oils with recycled board and much more. Use of optimised migration optimised ink systems don’t impact negatively on compliant packaging materials and don’t contribute to existing levels of hazardous components.

Migration optimised ink systems are not a replacement for good practices that the stakeholders in the packaging supply chain must adhere to. They will, however, support the printer and brand owners to minimise migration risks and to produce a safe product for the consumers. Migration optimised inks are safe inks with the best standards which acknowledge the value of human safety, health and lives.

jatinJatin Takkar is the manager – product safety and regulatory at Siegwerk India. He is a food technologist and has worked with various MNC’s like Nestle and Kraft Heinz before settling in at Siegwerk India. At Siegwerk, Takkar is responsible for the product safety and regulatory segment and ensures the formulation of compliant inks which are demonstrated by systems and supported by documentation. He is also involved in creating awareness on compliant ink systems...

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