The adhesives experts at Henkel expect new European Union regulations on the use of so-called epoxy silanes to be passed by September 2020. These are still frequently used as adhesive components in food packaging. A challenge, even for the packaging industry.
The demands placed on laminated plastic bags, which are in great demand in the food industry, could soon increase. This is because they often contain so-called epoxy silanes such as glymo and glyeo as adhesion promoters. The laminated bags consist of several polymer layers that protect food from the ingress of light, gases and microbes. The epoxy silanes are a component of the adhesives that hold the layers together. FEICA, the Association of the European Adhesives and Sealants Industry, already recommends avoiding the use of epoxy silanes in food contact applications and replacing the adhesion promoter as soon as possible if necessary. This is because epoxy silanes are considered to be potentially genotoxic.
Time frame until September likely
Henkel expects the European Union to impose new restrictions on the use of epoxy silanes this year. “A time frame up to September 2020 is very likely for this. This will increase the demand for suitable alternatives,” expects Dr. Monika Tönnießen, Head of Food Safety Compliance – Global Food Safety, Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs at Henkel. It is true that the use of glymo as an adhesion promoter will still be permitted in the near future. But only if it can be demonstrated that this does not pose a health risk. However, the restrictions would require complex test methods that would present processors and packaging manufacturers with far-reaching challenges.
Early switch to alternatives
Henkel emphasizes that it anticipated this development at an early stage and started developing epoxy silane-free adhesives. Henkel has already developed a new range of epoxy silane-free laminating adhesives. “The adhesive properties and performance of these glymo- and glyeo-free adhesive systems have already been confirmed in industrial applications by several of our customers,” Tönniessen emphasized. The company also offers a new test method that combines several analytical techniques for the detection of epoxy silanes and their degradation products.