Henkel supports tissue industry with food safe adhesives

Many kitchen roll manufacturers like to advertise the fact that, even when wet, their tissue remains so tear-resistant that it can be used to raise up even heavy vegetables.

Jenna Koenneke, Marketing Manager - Henkel AG & Co. KGaA

With visuals showing the just-washed apple or a toddler’s mucky mouth being wiped dry and clean, the message is clearly that direct contact with these products is not – or should not be – a cause for concern.

The tissue industry is usually not the first market associated with food safety requirements for its products and packaging. However, this first impression is deceptive. Not only do tissue products come into direct food contact every day, the increased use of recycled tissue paper also means that producers need to pay particular attention to food safety issues. Tissue products are part of the daily life of billions of people all over the world. In the bathroom, kitchen, purse or pocket, tissue can be found in the form of toilet paper, kitchen towels, handkerchiefs or facial wipes. In most cases, one to five different types of adhesives are used to convert paper board and tissue paper into a functional consumer product. People use tissue products in many different situations. In the kitchen and at the dining table, tissue products have become an essential part of everyday life. The use of kitchen towels and napkins illustrates why food safety is as important in the tissue industry as it is in the food industry. In fact, food also comes into direct contact with tissue and tissue-converting adhesives in such cases.

Tissue-converting adhesive applications. The four main tissue-converting adhesive applications are core winding, pick-up, lamination and tail sealing. In the majority of cases, these are water-based adhesives, which means the carrier material or adhesive diluent is water. There are also packaging adhesives, which are predominantly hotmelt adhesives. Such adhesives have to match the requirements of very high machine speeds while offering clean application without stringing or splashing, excellent wet tack, short setting times and good compatibility with different grades of tissue and paper board. They also need to be fully water dispersible for the recycling process and to ensure the easy cleaning of machines.

Impact of new regulations on raw material selection. Developing new adhesives for the tissue industry means satisfying technical requirements to match expected performance. It also means ensuring safe usage in the converting process, for the end user, and for the environment. Henkel is fully committed to this mission on all counts with respect not only to next-generation products but also to all currently active products as well. One example impacting raw material selection relates to recent developments concerning some boron compounds such as boric acid and borax. Since 2010 and following implementation of REACH Regulation (CE) 1907/2006 and CLP Regulation (CE) 1272/2008, boric acid and borax have been classified as potentially damaging to fertility in cases of large-dose exposure. Hence they have been added to the Candidate List of “Substances of Very High Concern.” The two compounds are commonly used in the tissue-converting industry for core winding adhesives. Although, generally, the content of these substances in all relevant formulations is far below recognized hazard limits, or indeed limits of concern, their speedy replacement has already been successfully implemented at Henkel in order to generate a specific range of products free from these chemicals. Henkel, the world’s largest manufacturer of adhesives, is focusing this year on food safety in particular, with the emphasis on promoting an exchange of views and best practice, and on expanding collaboration with all its partners along the value chain. Henkel is unique among adhesive manufacturers in having established major in-house expertise with a centralized analytics, toxicology and product development capability and the backing of a team of specialists to deal with regulatory affairs. Henkel’s recently launched “Food Safety” initiative is aimed at food safety officers, quality managers, packaging developers, purchasers and other interested parties in the food and as well in the tissue industry. The initiative has been built around the website: www.henkel.com/foodsafety. This provides content such as webinars, white papers and videos related to food safe adhesives and food contact legislation. A comprehensive glossary is likewise available. *

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