Printing inks and PTFE: are you ahead of the evolving regulatory environment?

Printing inks and PTFE: are you ahead of the evolving regulatory environment?
Photo - Clariant

New and stricter regulations on the use of certain chemicals can pose significant operational challenges for industry. In printing inks, the use of PTFE is being impacted by new PFOA regulations in Europe as well as Japan and the United States.

Valued at almost 20-billion USD annually in 2020, traditionally, printing inks were used for the most part in newspaper and magazine production, but this has expanded exponentially into the packaging industry in a bid to powerfully brand and market products, making them attractive to customers. As the flexible and customized packaging landscape evolves the printing ink market will need to change with it.

Part of this evolution is already underway and it’s in response to more stringent regulatory frameworks on the use of various chemicals, inorganic solvents and heavy metals. Many in the printing industry know that PTFE historically was used as an additive at times by certain market sectors, for example, to protect packaging labels as products move through supply chains and onto shelves.

Yet, PTFE’s reported relationship with PFAS related compounds, in particular PFOA, classified by some as Persistent Organic Pollutants, means that PTFE is coming under scrutiny and is increasingly subject to regulations across the globe. PFOA-related compounds have been regulated in the European Union since July 2020. Since July 5th, 2022, there has been a 25 parts per billion limit of PFOA in place while in February 2023 a 25 parts per billion limit of C9-C14 of PFCAs will come into force. As well, the European Commission has released a Restrictions Roadmap as part of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. This is a key part of the EU’s zero pollution ambition under the European Green Deal. The Restrictions Roadmap lists PFAS; of which PTFE can be a source as being in the current pipeline for further restriction.

This year Japan’s environment agency approved a ban on the manufacture, import and use of 56 PFOA- related compounds under the country’s Chemical Substance and Control Law while just this September, the U.S. EPA released a proposed rule seeking, for the first time, to designate PFOAs and PFOS as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law. This comes as multiple states petition for federal bans on other chemicals.

Companies should consider replacing traditional PTFE with PTFE-free alternatives. At Clariant, we know that modern printing demands flexible, high-quality solutions which is why we have developed PTFE-free alternatives that play a crucial role for surface variations within inks and coatings, such as scratch resistance, modification of slip properties, matting effects and more.

In addition to Polyethylene wax-based additives like Ceridust® 3610 and Ceridust 3030 which have shown success in replacing PE/PTFE blends, Clariant also offers additives based on renewable and sustainable raw materials, with a continued focus on performance and cost optimization.

Made from a renewable resource, our Ceridust 8330 renewable polymer/wax compound is one of these alternatives and can replace PE/PTFE additives in printing inks. It achieves more with less additive, is sustainable and compliant to upcoming legislation requirements.

It’s a revolutionary, predominantly bio-based additive for all kind of printing inks with a mean particle size diameter of approximately 5.5 μm. Its mix of flexible, yet tough polymeric characteristics makes it a powerful rub resistance additive for all types of ink systems. With superior rub resistance properties versus PTFE containing material, even higher mechanical resistance can be achieved. This lengthens the durability of finished goods which look more beautiful.

The uncertainty around the details of regulatory changes that are to come, at the same time as knowing they will come, can make it challenging for businesses to address these issues. With an advanced, forward-looking portfolio of bio-based, sustainable additives for printing inks, paints and coatings, Clariant takes a proactive, pro-safety and pro-environment approach to help customers navigate this uncertain and fast-changing landscape.

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