Packaging – A Key Factor in Product Safety

The importance of packaging as a key factor in product safety was reaffirmed during the second Kaligraf seminar on packaging held on October 4, 2023, at the Wespa Spaces center in Zagreb. Once again, this gathering served as a hub for the selfless exchange of knowledge, information, and expertise among experts and all those responsible for packaging and packaging design in their daily roles.

Addressing the challenge of effectively safeguarding products from external influences, microorganisms, light, air, moisture, mechanical damage, while ensuring attractiveness on store shelves, simplicity, and sustainability within a few microns of packaging film, the seminar participants were well aware of the complexities involved. Hence, each topic was carefully examined, fostering constructive and valuable discussions.

The seminar was inaugurated by Miho Karolyi, the founder and director of the Kaligraf graphic studio. He is an expert in packaging production and all aspects of technological solutions and packaging optimization. In his opening remarks, Mr. Karolyi emphasized that the demands on packaging are increasing today and will continue to do so in the near future. He highlighted the impending challenges for manufacturers and those involved in packaging production, packaging materials, and printing, stemming from new laws, directives, and regulations that are increasingly defining the market and packaging management. Times of significant change are approaching.

It was evident that most of the challenges revolved around materials and production techniques. Therefore, Mr. Igor Belošić (Sun Chemical), an expert in graphic inks in the field of chemical and printing processes in packaging production, discussed how graphic colors impact the protective role of packaging. He stated, “Color is the primary topic of discussion when it comes to product safety and the migration of unwanted substances into the product, mainly because it is visible.” Through his presentation, he explained how printing mechanisms affect different materials and how color can potentially alter product properties, most commonly scent. He also provided information on permissible levels of particle migration and how to avoid undesirable effects to achieve optimal packaging.

Optimization naturally includes choosing the right materials. Galja Milošević, a consultant in the graphic and packaging industry and an expert in the development and production of cardboard packaging, explained the selection of the correct materials, especially paper and cardboard. She highlighted the importance of understanding the specific requirements that packaging materials must meet and the design effects they must present from the very beginning of the packaging development project. Approaching material selection in this manner allows for maximum utilization of its properties while meeting optimization and rationalization criteria.

Mr. Miljenko Pekić, the Head of Operations at Vlahović Group, which specializes in supporting clients in government relations and regulatory affairs, and a member of the AmCham Committee for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, discussed the imminent changes brought about by new laws. He provided a concise overview of the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, which, if passed by March 15, 2024, would amend the Market Surveillance and Compliance of Products Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, the Directive on Reducing the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment 2019/904, and repeal Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste 94/62/EC. Mr. Pekić’s presentation sparked a flurry of reactions, as he acknowledged that many aspects are still undefined, and some provisions may be challenging to implement in several EU countries. Regardless of the final decisions, it seems that packaging management will become more complex, requiring increased administration and documentation.

After that, Miho Karolyi explained the concept of migrations, their causes, and the undesirable substances that typically migrate from materials to products, emphasizing the need for strict control. He provided examples and addressed how to avoid migrations and achieve adequate product-safe packaging. He concluded, “Food packaging laws prescribe that packaging must not transfer packaging materials into food in quantities that could lead to changes in the nature, substance, or quality of the food and must not be harmful to health. Responsibility lies with all stakeholders in the production process, but the brand bears the damage.”

Željka Tihomirović from Kaligraf, an expert in packaging management in a production organization, highlighted the importance of incorporating packaging and packaging waste into the circular economy as the only option that could bring significant changes. Drawing on the results of the Holy Grail project, which successfully demonstrated the identification and sorting of packaging marked with digital watermarks in an automated process, she stressed that there is room for optimism and that forthcoming changes are for the better.

Miho Karolyi concluded the seminar with a brief glimpse into the future of packaging and an invitation for further discussion. Participants gained insights into innovations and technological solutions for enhancing packaging production efficiency and quality.

This seminar provided another opportunity for exchanging ideas, establishing new contacts, and reaffirming the value of such gatherings in fostering growth and development collectively.

Stay tuned for more updates and upcoming events from Kaligraf, your trusted partner in packaging solutions.