In recent years, there has been a movement to develop more sustainable packaging solutions for consumers and brand owners. One specific trend in this movement has been the paper industry’s voluntary movement away from the use of certain chemicals, which enable grease-resistance in food packaging. Ahlstrom-Munksjö has been the marketplace leader in this effort.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö recognized the need for more sustainable, fiber-based solutions ahead of the marketplace shift, and began developing their proprietary FluoroFree® Grease-Resistant papers more than a decade ago.
Since the development of FluoroFree®, more regions around the world are developing regulations and standards around the commercial sale of food packaging papers, including specific requirements such as compostability, recyclability, and now products that are “free of” fluorochemicals.
As an example, The Biodegradable Products Institute® (BPI®) developed standards around PFAS requirements related to papers and packaging structures passing composting requirements.
"BPI® changed its certification requirements to prohibit the use of PFAS back in 2017, giving companies time to phase them out and come into compliance by the deadline of December 31, 2019,” said Rhodes Yepsen, Executive Director of BPI®. “Our prohibition is threefold, requiring a statement of no intentionally added PFAS from the manufacturer, a detailed review of safety data sheets for all ingredients by our experts, and a test report showing no more than 100 ppm total fluorine in the final product. The limit of 100 ppm total fluorine came from the European compostability standard EN13432, which was put in place in Europe to restrict fluorine, not PFAS.”
“Through tests in the US, the 100ppm threshold was found to be a reasonable indicator of intentional use of PFAS for many foodservice items. However, some PFAS are quite effective in small quantities, and total fluorine tests do not provide certainty on PFAS usage, leading BPI to include the additional criteria in our certification."
How does testing determine if PFAS have been intentionally added to a structure, as opposed to “background” or “elemental” fluorine is present? Graham Peaslee, Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame did extensive research in making certain threshold determinations.
“Early in our testing of a wide variety of paper and paperboard packaging, we observed that total fluorine quantities could be observed to occur at all levels ranging from several thousand ppm total Fluorine (F), down to below our level of detection around 2-5 ppm,” Peaslee explained. “There was a minimum around 100-200 ppm, but no regions where no samples were observed. So when pressed to come up with an answer of whether a paper was treated with PFAS or not, we went with another approach, because there was no clear demarcation from just looking at the data.”
“We obtained samples that were treated with the minimum level of PFAS that were commercially available - from a company that knew how much PFAS they used on their products. This minimum level treatment was observed to be around 250 - 350 ppm total F, and we observed lots of samples in the 250 - 800 ppm range, and then some samples that were 3 or 4 times higher than that. Thus, we felt confident that if we set a value at our minimum frequency of detection (around 100 ppm) that all truly intentional PFAS-treatments would lie well above that value. The samples that had measurable total fluorine under 100 ppm total F, would not impart sufficient surfactancy to the paper to be called water- or oil-resistant, and must arise from unintentional PFAS contamination.”
In recent years the Ahlstrom-Munksjö team worked with researchers, ENGOs, and different regulatory bodies to seek to understand environmental goals and develop sustainable products that matched all requirements.
FluoroFree® technology combines next-generation grease resistance with years of experience to back it up. The Ahlstrom-Munksjö product development teams continue to refine greaseproof technologies to meet the full spectrum of performance and sustainability goals that the marketplace needs.
Quick Service Restaurant applications, microwave popcorn bags, pet food packaging, and other papers are specifically machined to meet or exceed sustainability goals.
Benefits of FluoroFree® papers:
- Manufactured without the use of fluorochemicals
- Meet FDA & BfR requirements for direct-food contact
- Cost-effective & eco-friendly
- Bleached, natural & blended fibers available
- Several recyclable options available, some according to EN13430
- Biodegradable & Suitable for home & industrial compostabilty according to EN 13432
- Certified compostable by BPI® Biodegradable Products Institute (United States)
Genuine Vegetable Parchment Solutions
Ahlstrom-Munksjö is also a leader in the production of Genuine Vegetable Parchment, a naturally grease-resistant paper that is certified Home Compostable.
As a leader in sustainability, Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s proactive approach in developing alternatives has helped support the efforts of different municipalities and sustainable brands for the past several years as more stringent thresholds are required.