Paper packaging for food is often derived from recycled paper. Recycled paper may contain substances which are potentially harmful to humans, such as mineral oil residues originally present in printing inks. A study supported by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food found more than 250 contaminants in recycled fiber samples, with a total average concentration of 481 mg/kg. If such fiber is used for food packaging, contaminants may migrate into the food during storage.
BASF offers several functional polymer coatings that serve as a barrier to mineral oil and other contaminants. The barriers can either be based on polymers printed from ink or plastic layers extruded onto the paper.
Different end of life options are possible for the barrier-coated paper, depending on the technical solution chosen: repulping (Epotal®), repulping with removal of the plastic (extruded Ultramid® or PBT) or composting (extruded ecovio®).
- Migration barrier solutions can ensure that our food is protected from contaminants present in recycled paper.
- This supports the use of recycled paper in foodstuff.
- Besides the technical development, there is currently a lot of uncertainty in the market regarding acceptable levels of mineral oil contamination and the obligations of the value chain.
- In Europe, the EU Commission has called upon the member states to monitor mineral oil concentrations in food and food contact materials in 2017 and 2018.
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