BIS standards for the packaging industry

While speaking in Mumbai at the 8th Global Summit on the Specialty Films and Flexible Packaging, Mahim Jain requested industry partners to participate in the standards formulation process particularly the ones that concern recycling. During his keynote address, Jain who is a Scientist-G and the deputy director general of the Western Region at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) shed light about BIS in formulating standards for the packaging industry. Following are the some key excerpts from his speech.

11 Sep 2019 | By WhatPackaging? Team

The standards formulation body

BIS conducts its standards formulation activity at its headquarters in Delhi where it has 14 wings each concerned with a specific technical area. Each department is constituted of sectional committees devoted to a specific category of products in that technical area. 

Packaging is made from four important materials; paper and cardboard, plastic films in single or multi-layer laminates as well as co-extruded films, metal containers and glass containers. The sectional committees with formulating standards for these packaging materials are:

  •  Plastics: PCD 21, Plastics Packaging; Petroleum, Coal and Related Products Department
  • Metals: MTD-7, Composition of Light Metals and their alloys, Metallurgical Engineering Department & PGD 38, Metal Containers; Production and General Engineering Department
  •  Glass: CHD 10, Glass, Glassware and Laboratory ware; Chemical Department
  • Paper: CHD 16, Paper Based Packaging, Chemical Department

Packaging standards formulations

There’s a possibility of migration of part of packaging material into the food items due to contact. Therefore it is essential that package should be selected such that migration is at a minimum. Substance that do migrate from the package to the packed material are within the prescribed limits and cause no hazards when consumed. 

The BIS standard IS 9845 is for determining overall migration of constituents of plastic and articles intended to come in contact with foodstuff; to ensure that the global migration value is within the prescribed limit of 60ppm.

Another standard IS 9833 lists the permitted pigments and colorants that may be used in plastics that may come in contact with foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and drinking water. BIS has also published a guide IS 10171 for suitability of plastics for food packaging to help manufacturers.

If we look at the international scenario, the ISO standard TC 122 deals with packaging in general. The ISO/TC 6 which deals with paper, board and pulp has 186 standards formulated under this category. For light gauge metal containers there is ISO/TC 52 and ISO/TC 63 deals with glass containers under which ISO has formulated 32 standards. ISO/TC 104 talks about freight containers which at present contain 40 standards formulations.

Standards implementation

The products that are brought under certification are driven by their respective ministries. Adoption of Indian standards is voluntary in nature and their implementation is governed by concerned regulatory bodies. An Indian standard becomes binding when it is stipulated in a contract, referred to in legislation, or made mandatory through specific orders of state or central government.

As per Plastic Waste Management rules, 2016, carrybags or products made of recycled plastic shall not be used for carrying, storing, dispensing or packaging of food items.

Similarly, FSSAI has referred to 33 Indian standards in their food safety and packaging regulations published recently. The packaging used for food must conform to these standards.

Standards for recycling

BIS has formulated Indian standards for recycling and classification of recycled plastic material on the basis of its basic properties and applications. BIS has published IS 14534: guidelines for recycling plastics. The plastic waste management rules, 2016 refer to IS 14534 on how to recycle plastics.  The Indian Standard IS 14535 is for manufacturing of products from recycled plastic.

The Chemical Department of BIS has formulated some standards for paper products which permit use of recycled pulp. Standards on post consumer recycled paper is under development at the paper and its products sectional committee CHD 15.

Many studies have shown that plastic waste can be converted into drop-in fuels. BIS has also initiated work in this regard on the use of drop-in fuels for automotive and aviation use made from plastic waste.