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Dhaka Tribune

‘Entire supply chain should come together for a safe food packaging industry’

Along with creating awareness, then there needs to be a discussion among the supply chains for proper execution and implementation

Update : 22 Feb 2024, 07:25 PM

In a recent interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Saddam Hossain, the head of global product safety of Siegwerk, Jatin Takkar discussed how to establish a safe food packaging industry

What is Siegwerk’s core commitment to product safety?

Siegwerk has been the pioneer when it comes to safe packaging inks. Probably, we are the first and the only company which has a global scale committed to a policy called “EuPIA (European Printing Ink Association).” In the realm of printing inks, EuPIA has long been a beacon of safety, pioneering the EuPIA Exclusion Policy that prohibits the use of really hazardous chemicals. When I say hazardous, I'm talking about three prominent categories which include carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic.

Siegwerk is 100% committed to this EuPIA exclusion policy to make sure that the inks that we are formulating are safe, not only for the consumers but also for the people who are working with us. So, Siegwerk is fully committed to both consumer safety as well as operation safety results.

How does Siegwerk provide safe products to customers?

As an ink and coating solution provider, we provide inks and coatings for the patch and packaging material. Our customers are basically the printers of the converters, they develop the packaging and we supply the inks and coatings. And our support to these converters is always to make sure that we understand their application. 

We always believe that categories like food, pharma, hygiene, cosmetics, toys – these are pretty sensitive applications. 

We believe that when you study these applications, you need to understand the sensitivity of these applications and need to formulate the inks very responsibly.

Here, you have to be extremely cautious with the choice of chemicals to formulate the inks. 

We also extend our support in terms of running those inks and coatings in the printing processes. So, whenever a converter needs support in terms of running those inks and coatings seamlessly in their process.

We are there whenever a converter needs any support in terms of any documentation, we also extend the appropriate documentation for these kinds of applications. 

How does Bangladesh fare in keeping up with global standards in safe food packaging?

I think Bangladesh is really picking up on these standard development parts. Now, there is a specific standard that BSTI has created which is a standard on packaging inks so that clearly shows that the government is positive and the government is taking steps to raise the bar when it comes to consumer safety. So, they are taking every step evident to make sure that the consumers are safe. 

Do you think brand owners and converters have an increased requirement/knowledge on ink safety specifically for packaged food at present? If yes, please explain why. 

This is a tricky question because it depends upon what brand owners and converters we are talking about. If you talk about the brands which have global exposure, then probably the answer would be Yes. Because they have global exposure and there are countries like Europe, the US, and China where regulations on packaging inks or packaging materials have been existing for a long time.

So, with their global exposure, they have been exposed to this kind of subject and they are quite aware. 

But to the local brand owners, and converters, I think the responsibility would also rely a lot on the ink and chemical manufacturers to create this awareness and that's what Siegwerk is trying to do.

I think it is also the responsibility of ink manufacturers to step up and to talk about safe packaging inks more openly in the market. 

You mention that the packaging standard is rising in Bangladesh. Is it important that all parties involved in the packaging industry should work together even more now? 

Yes. When you talk about packaging material, like a consumer, we see a yellow colour noodle pack, but the pack is a combination of several things, like plastic film, colours, certain adhesives etc. 

So, it becomes very important that the entire supply chain should come together to work hand in hand to share knowledge, documents, information, and strategy for a safe food packaging industry. We want the packaging material to be safe and for this, the entire packaging supply chain has to come together.

Food regulatory authorities in Bangladesh are promoting food safety. Do you think any additional steps need to be taken?

From my side, I think there's always scope for improvement. You cannot imagine that we can develop a standard very similar to the Europeans' diameter because the conditions, enforcement, and capabilities are quite different. 

So, I would just say that whatever the government is doing is a step in the right direction and if this can keep up the momentum, then we’ll be where the developed nations are today. 

So, definitely, there is a scope for improvement. After five years, when we see that we have implemented the first part of it, then we can go for another improvement.

Taking these small steps will make sure that we are protecting the consumers going forward. 

Do you think Bangladesh as a growing economy is capable of hitting the right chord in areas of packaging safety in line with the global trends of increased consumer safety?

Now Bangladesh is in the best situation as the economy is growing and all the things are positive.

Moreover, in the very recent election, Bangladesh again had the same government meaning the stability is sustained for the nation. 

Once the nation makes progressive steps, this will also open channels for exports. This will also contribute to the growth of the organization as well.

What are some of the challenges faced by the industry incorporating safe and sustainable practices and how can they be overcome?

Now it's the responsibility of the entire supply chain – the brands, converters, printers, and manufacturers – to step up and work together to make this change happen.

The government has done one part of their job and now everyone has to come together. We have to create more awareness and then we need to implement the standard on the ground.

Along with creating awareness, then there needs to be discussion among the supply chains and the third thing is the execution and the implementation.

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