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Packaging Today talks to Markus Kramer, president of dispersions and pigments at BASF

Packaging Today: What challenges and trends are you seeing in packaging in 2014 and how are you addressing them?

Markus Kramer: Based on industry surveys, we consider cost, content protection, differentiation at point of sale, convenience and sustainability to be the major topics for the brand-owners, converters and raw material suppliers. For 2014, a major topic under the theme of content protection will be food safety.

Additionally, continuous optimisation of working processes (eg, reducing lead times and waste production) is always an ongoing topic. Legislation on food safety is getting more stringent and we have to offer food contact compliant solutions to the flexiblepackaging market. As an example, Joncryl FLX 5201 is a new polyurethane dispersion specifically developed to address the Swiss Ordinance compliance, offering high quality resins for water-based printing.

Providing cost efficient solutions to our customers is also important. Joncryl 668 sets the new standard in the corrugated ink market by providing high quality printing with low solids content.

Last but not least, we see demand for sustainability is getting higher in the industry. Our water-based technologies support these trends. Conventional film-to-film lamination adhesives (eg, solvent-based adhesives, solventless adhesives) may contain reactive components such as low molecular isocyanates and, in many cases, solvents. In contrast to water-based adhesives, these adhesive systems require compliance with technical guidelines for the handling of hazardous materials, mandatory storage times and special
storage conditions (eg, storage at 40°C) to ensure the full reaction of all substances.

Water-based Epotal FLX adhesives are free of migratable toxic elements and organic solvents. In addition, they meet the global food law requirements of the European Union and are approved for food contact. Due to their high green strength, the laminates can be processed immediately. This way lead times and costs may be significantly reduced.

PT: Where you do you see sustainability heading in 2014? Is there any legislation that is helping you with new growth opportunities?

MK: We see two major trends. One is the reduction of solvents and the other is food safety. European solvent related legislations addressing emissions and safe working environment for health and safety create more demand for solvent-free technologies. BASF is offering water-based raw materials to formulate inks, adhesives and functional coatings that can substitute solvent-based technologies.

We also see that there is an increased focus on food safety, especially driven by analysis institutes and brand-owners. One of their current focus areas is on printing inks and mineral oils. Adhesives and functional coatings are also on their agenda.

BASF’s water-based technology offers solutions for the packaging industry that help to replace solvent-based with water-based
products. Our water-based adhesives help to lower the risk of migration of toxic substances into food significantly, and are free of migratable toxic elements and organic solvents. In addition, both our water-based adhesives and raw materials for inks meet the
requirements of the applicable food
contact legislations.

Food legislation like the Swiss and German Ordinance limit the use of certain raw materials. It is becoming more and more of a challenge to be innovative and comply with food contact legislation while we offer our products to the ink and functional coatings formulating market.

But, the positive side is that we have to push ourselves to think out of the box, so that we can differentiate ourselves from
the rest.

PT: Which products are you launching in 2014, and how do you see them improving packaged goods, addressing challenges, and helping consumers?

MK: We have introduced new Joncryl FLX products, and the Joncryl FLX line makes it possible to formulate water-based inks
suitable for surface print, but also for reverse print that can be laminated. It is possible to print all types of flexible packaging with water-based inks based on Joncryl FLX and obtaining high quality prints, good performance in the printing process and final packaging application. Flexible packaging printed with water-based inks is a safe and healthy option which can also be used in reducing air emissions.

This year, we are planning to launch a new water-based Epotal FLX adhesive for retortable applications. Typically, retortable
packages are manufactured with solvent-based adhesives. However, these types of adhesives need to cure for from seven up to
10 days at elevated temperatures. With water-based adhesives, these curing times can be eliminated, therefore, lead times and
working capital at converters may be reduced significantly. This provides converters and brand-owners with a higher flexibility in the handling of ad-hoc orders.

PT: Is there a trend you feel will be the most important this year and why?

MK: Safe packaging is on top of brand-owners’ lists. Therefore, compliance with food contact legislation is very important and we make sure that it is incorporated into our new product development process. We also support our customers with all relevant information on a daily basis.

PT: Is there any education or information you would like to provide directly to brand-owners or consumers?

MK: BASF is committed to supporting the packaging industry with innovative technologies that fulfill demands for sustainability and food safety. We offer Ultramid polyamide and ecovio biocompostable resins for film substrates and a wide range of products for paper. Our non-phthalate, non-aromatic plasticizer, Hexamoll DINCH is an ideal solution for food contact applications.

In addition, our water-based adhesives offer an attractive alternative to traditionally used solvent-based and solventless adhesives. They offer high green strengths, allowing for a subsequent processing of the laminates. Lead times may be reduced significantly. Problems with aromatic amines and solvent retention don’t exist, thus our products may improve the sustainability and safety of packages.

BASF also drives conversion and offers a system solution to the converting and packaging industry, forming horizontal industry partnerships with equipment suppliers as well as vertical industry partnerships with ink formulators and adhesive producers.