At supermarket shelves, the packaging is often what determines what goes in customers’ shopping carts. WACKER has now developed VINNAPAS® EP 8010, a new dispersion for formulating sophisticated paper and packaging adhesives that also prevent unwanted substances from migrating into food.
Packaging does much more than simply protect products during shipping. Indeed, packaging is often what lends a product the individuality promised by its advertising. When supermarket customers are confronted with three dozen types of breakfast cereals, making a decision is frequently difficult – and the packaging is often what prompts the customer to make a purchase. The German Packaging Institute (Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut) estimates that consumers make two-thirds of their purchase decisions at the point of sale, i.e., not until they are standing immediately in front of supermarket shelves. Among the cheerful array of products on display, the packaging is what delivers the actual sales pitch. Knowing this makes industry players all the more eager to use the outward appearance of their products as a way of distinguishing themselves from the competition. According to a PricewaterhouseCooper study, material innovations constituted the second most important topic for packaging manufacturers after energy consumption. For 72 percent of all packaging material producers, this represents a major challenge.
At WACKER’s applications laboratory, Angelika Ellbrunner tests the setting speed of paper and packaging adhesives based on VAE copolymers.
Yet no matter how much they may crave innovative materials, one principle always applies: substances potentially posing health hazards must never migrate from packaging into food, and packaging must never cause organoleptic changes to food, i.e., it must not alter the aroma or taste. “This impacts all of the materials used in food packaging,” says Dr. Gerhard Kögler, the platform manager for Technical Services Adhesives Europe at WACKER, “and not just its primary components, such as paper, cardboard and plastic. Printing inks and adhesives are affected too, for instance.” This poses a special challenge to packaging manufacturers and food producers, who must understand the migration behavior of all of the substances used in packaging – taking interactions into consideration as well – in order to rule out any negative impact on the packaged product. Given the wide variety of potential combinations, achieving this goal requires exceptional effort.