There are compelling reasons for beverage and snack manufacturers to consider the sustainability of their packaging, and FDA regulations are certainly among them. However, of equal if not greater importance than the FDA are your customers and employees. In growing numbers, they have a keen interest in green packaging.

Manufacturers can choose water- or solvent-based inks and coatings to create packaging graphics that are acceptable under FDA guidelines. For sustainability and ease of use, though, water-based inks and coatings offer distinct advantages over solvent-based solutions, with no drop-off in performance. Think of it as the difference between working with latex and oil house paints. Both get the job done, but the water-based products are significantly easier to work with.

Four advantages of water-based inks

  1. Once they dry, water-based inks are solvent-free and therefore pose no danger of solvent migration or leeching, either directly or indirectly.
  2. Because solvent-based inks contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they require a coating to create a barrier between them and any foodstuff to mitigate against leeching.
  3. Because water-based inks require no coating, production is easier. Fewer steps are required.
  4. Water-based inks can provide comparable end-use performance as solvent-based inks, especially on absorbent substrates such as paper and corrugated board.

Water-based inks also allow beverage and snack manufacturers to reduce concerns about VOCs and related health problems, minimize environmental impact, and eliminate solvent disposal and dangerous emissions.

An example of a beverage segment that has embraced water-based inks for packaging is the tea industry. With the potential for printed tags to sit on tea bags for extended periods – up to six months or more on the shelves of retailers and subsequently in the cupboards of consumers – leading tea brands print their tags with water-based inks which prevent VOCs from seeping into the tea and avoid any compromise in the taste of the products.

Smart business for multiple reasons

Finding a packaging vendor whose products and processes reflect a true commitment to sustainability is smart business for beverage and snack manufacturers on several fronts. By doing so, they can ensure compliance with FDA packaging standards; guard against product contamination; protect their employees from harmful VOCs; contribute to the sustainability of the environment; and appeal to the concerns of today’s consumers whose purchase decisions are increasingly being made with consideration of a brand’s demonstration of corporate social responsibility.