The Finnish Kotkamills developed a solution to the recycling challenge of board with plastic extrusion coating and introduced a new dispersion-coated barrier board. In practice, this means creation of, for example, a fully recyclable disposable cup. Assisted by VTT Expert Services, Kotkamills was able to demonstrate the safety and suitability of its boards for food products and to draw up the Declaration of Conformity (DoCs) required for selling the board.
Five years of product development resulted in novel dispersion-coated barrier board
The product development of a new paperboard product took a total of five years. Behind the effort was the global increase in the need for recyclable and environmentally friendly disposable food-service containers.
"To date, paperboard has traditionally been coated with PE plastic, which has posed a challenge for recycling. Separating plastics from recyclable wood fibres requires a special process not found in every recycling facility. The coated board from Kotkamills features a water-based dispersion-coated barrier, allowing the board to be recycled with paper waste or composted. Produced from virgin fibre, the fibre can be recycled into new paper products up to seven times," says Saila Kettunen, Director, Barrier Board at Kotkamills.
"Our new cartonboards, the AEGLE™ folding and barrier boards and ISLA™ packaging and food service boards, are designed for food packaging and service. The water-based dispersion coating has high tolerance for moisture and grease. Packaging made of dispersion-coated barrier board can be used for various products, such as frozen foods, pastries and fast food."
VTT Expert Services aided with requirement assessment and paperboard testing
VTT Expert Services joined the project in early 2016. "We consulted Kotkamills on the requirements for food-grade cartonboard and Good Manufacturing Practice in relation to, for example, ISO 22000 certification for food safety management systems," notes Tiina Huovila, Product Manager at VTT Expert Services Oy.
"Testing of board samples began in the summer of 2016. Our experts assessed which tests would need to be performed on the board to ensure its compliance with, for example, the EU regulations, the EU area recommendations and the requirements of the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA), as applicable. The test programme included comprehensive testing of concentrations of different chemicals and sensory evaluations."
In practice, the testing ensured that no harmful substances are transferred from the packaging materials to foods, and that the packaging does not alter the sensory qualities of the food, such as smell or taste.
Cooperation was awarded with, inter alia, the ISO 220000 certificate for food safety management systems
Already in the project phase, Kotkamills took account of the food safety requirements from the perspectives of the process, the premises and product development. The company trained itself into a food contact materials manufacturer with the help of such partners as VTT Expert Services.
"VTT Expert Services was involved in the project as an expert, training the staff on contact material requirements, developing the plant's own sensory analytics, and in the verification of product conformity after the machines were started. Areas requiring particularly close cooperation included the acceptance process of raw materials, approval of recipes conforming to applicable regulations and product testing. As a result of the collaboration Kotkamills was awarded with the ISO 22000 certificate and Declarations of Conformity relating to the products," Kettunen says, summarising the cooperation process.