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Recycled-Content Carton Passes ‘Clean and Safe’ Tests

Photo supplied by Colbert Packaging Colbert-Pkg-cleancarton-ftd.jpg
The new One Clean Carton with 30% post-consumer recycled fiber offers a low migration, low odor, and low VOC solution for pharmaceutical and food-safe secondary packaging.

Many product manufacturers are adding recycled content to packages to meet cited sustainability goals. How might the material change affect package safety? Some suppliers are retesting their packages to ensure the materials meet, or exceed, safety evaluations.

Colbert Packaging has done just that for a new version of its One Clean Carton, which contains 30% post-consumer recycled fiber.

“Today’s Pharma and Consumer product managers are tasked with sourcing environmentally-friendly packaging,” says Lon Johnson, Colbert’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We’re pleased to announce the test results showing One Clean Carton, made from paperboard consisting of 30% post-consumer recycled fiber, has tested FDA compliant for food and pharmaceutical products. This good news supports customer sourcing criteria and our ongoing commitment to sustainability and stewardship.”

First introduced in 2018, the One Clean Carton uses water-based components, specifically:

Water-based inks from Huber
Water-based coating from Cork Industries Inc.
Water-based adhesives from Capital Adhesives

The carton’s sustainability attributes start, however, with the main substrate. The original One Clean Carton paperboard from Clearwater Paper is a solid bleached sulphate (SBS) stock that uses Candesce CIS virgin fibers with no mechanical pulp in a middle ply. The latest PCR version, also from Clearwater Paper, is made with ReMagine, a premium paperboard with 30% post-consumer recycled fiber.

According to Colbert, both substrates offer superior print performance for quality aesthetics, but they also result in less waste and lower consumption of raw materials and ink.

Both substrates were evaluated for safety in 2021 (Colbert retested the SBS version) and both passed these analytical tests, according to the company:

Headspace-GC-MS analysis to determine volatile out-gas products (Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs) from the packaging upon heating to 100°C for 30 minutes to measure potential products that might out-gas and permeate foods/drugs during storage. This technique was used to monitor retained solvents and compounds with boiling points below toluene.

Purge & Trap-Thermal Desorption- GC-MS (P&T-TD-GC-MS) analysis to determine semi-volatile out-gas products from the packaging upon heating to 100°C for 30 minutes to measure potential semi-volatile migrants that might out-gas and permeate foods/drugs during storage. This technique was used to monitor slow ink/varnish/adhesive solvents and semi-volatile compounds with boiling points above toluene.

Sensory evaluation (odor testing) of the samples by jar testing after heating to 50°C in closed glass mason jars.

FDA migration testing of the food-side (unprinted-side) packaging in custom-design extraction cells using both 10% ETOH (FDA aqueous-acidic food simulant) and 95% ETOH (FDA fatty food simulant) and FDA Condition of Use E extraction conditions (room temperature filling and storage).

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