Waxed paper has been wrapping confectionery, cheese, and meat beautifully and naturally for a long time, and today there are even more good reasons for its continuing and increasing popularity. According to the European waxed paper packaging manufacturers’ association, EuroWaxPack, their product’s environmental credentials have recently been proven by tests at an independent expert laboratory. The tests add real value for users of this established and versatile packaging medium by declaring it to be compostable and biodegradable according to the European EN 13432 standard. A summary of the tests results are appended in a separate document.
Paper: the heart of the product
At the heart of waxed paper packaging is the paper itself – usually a high-strength uncoated calendered grade, which may be printed according to the brand owner’s brief in up to ten colours (and metallics, if desired) on today’s leading-edge roll-to-roll presses, using inks approved for indirect food contact. In-line serialisation and barcoding are also possible. The printed web is then one- or two-sides coated with a specially-formulated wax (either vegetable or petroleum based) to give the protective qualities of moisture- and water- resistance while gently cushioning the pack contents. Confectionery products are wrapped at high speeds on today’s advanced packaging lines, either as twist wraps or as folded and sealed packaging.
Says Frans Martens, President of EuroWaxPack and Managing Director of specialist converters Cats-Haensel (Germany): "The results of our new compostability tests prove that waxed paper has something special to offer to today’s confectionery brand owners – something that plastic film-based wraps cannot match. Waxed paper provides a number of environmental benefits – biodegradable, compostable, recyclable, renewable – and its functional performance is outstanding. Consumers also benefit from the “silent opening” qualities of waxed paper wrappers – a real plus point in the cinema or theatre!
As a printer/converter myself, I am also aware of the benefits of running paper-based, wax-coated packaging on my production lines. There’s no static loading as with film products, and I can assist the brand owner’s packaging people by optimising such key features of the wax coating as slip, barrier, release, gloss level, and sealability."
EuroWaxPack Vice President Alexandra Venot, Product Manager, Flexible Packaging within the Label and Processing business area at specialty papers manufacturer Ahlstrom adds: "We deliver products that are sustainably sourced and manufactured in a safe and reliable manner. They are made from responsibly sourced fibre materials, which are fully renewable. Our papers’ high sustainability credentials make them the ideal “core” for confectionery wrapping applications. They offer a choice of weights, fibre blends, and surface finishes, so we are able to work with the wax supplier and the converter to deliver to brand owners product-specific results that not only perform perfectly, but also look great."
Food-approved wax coating
Wax coatings used for food packaging are today increasingly made using modified vegetable oils. According to Steffen Osinga, Marketing Manager for wax specialist company Paramelt, these products are primarily sourced from vegetable oil producers who supply under a sustainable production policy. Developed in the early 1990s, this technology has driven paper-based wrapping to its current very high standards. It has enabled EuroWaxPack members to provide end users with the optimal natural answer in terms of packaging functionality, sustainability and renewability.
Proof of compostability
The strict conditions for certification to EN 13432, ‘Requirements for Packaging Recoverable through Composting and Biodegradation’ are shown to be met in full by a typical waxed paper, according to independent testing laboratory Organic Waste Systems (OWS), Belgium, who conducted extensive testing on EuroWaxPack’s behalf. Says Frans Martens: "The test results enable EuroWaxPack members to support their customers with an assessment of the potential compostability of the waxed paper packaging materials that they use – so food producers who use our products can be confident that their packaging materials could well comply with EN 13432, and qualify for other worthwhile certifications like ‘OK Compost’ and ‘Compostable’."
The answer to a strong current challenge
In the context of the challenging combination of today’s environmental sensibilities and the need to achieve, cost-effectively, packaging that offers applied performance and eyecatching aesthetics, waxed paper packaging represents an established and proven solution – naturally.
EuroWaxPack is the European association of manufacturers of waxed paper packaging materials, with a strong membership representing market-leading technology companies in all aspects of the industry. www.eurowaxpack.org