Cardboard packaging sector unaffected by acrylamide proposal

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carcinogen European union Cardboard

A decision to add acrylamide to a European list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) is unlikely to have any impact on the cardboard packaging industry, said one trade body.

On Tuesday, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) once again announced the substance would be added to the register of hazardous chemicals. Its initial decision in December 2009 appeared to be in doubt after it inclusion application was temporarily suspended by the General Court of the European Union. However, this judgement was overturned last week – paving the way for its addition to the list.

Under the ECHA proposal, acrylamide has been listed as a category two carcinogen and a category two mutagen. It added that acrylamide is almost exclusively used for the synthesis of polyacrylamides, which are used in various applications, in particular in waste water treatment and paper processing.

Packaging implications

But the leading corrugated packaging trade body said the ruling was unlikely to have an impact on its sector.

The European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers (FEFCO) told that under the REACH regulations only substances in articles will be taken into consideration if their content by weight is above 0.1 per cent (1,000 ppm).

The ECHA proposal only affects monomere acrylamide – and not polyacrylamide. Citing an example, the FEFCO spokesperson said that the German recommendation for paper and boards as a food contact material allows for polyacrylamide content of up to 0.1 per cent.

“The used polyacrylamide must not have more than 0.1 per cent monomere acrylamide - it means a maximum of 1 ppm monomere acrylamide in paper or board is allowed,”​ added the group’s spokesperson.

FEFCO said that in terms of REACH, monomere acrylamide does not exist in corrugated board as it will never exceed 1,000 ppm content level. The body concluded that no action was necessary by the sector.

SVHCs are those seen as presenting hazards that have serious consequences. These include being carcinogenic, or having other harmful properties and remaining in the environment for a long time. Chemicals that gradually build up in animals – bioaccumulative – can also be added to the list which has been compiled as part of the REACH legislation.

One of the aims of regulation is to control the use of such substances via authorisation and encourage industry to substitute these substances for safer ones. The category also includes substances demonstrated to be of equivalent concern, such as endocrine disruptors.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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