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India Bans Use of Toluene in Food Packaging Printing Ink

The Change in Food Packaging

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) has officially banned the use of Toluene in India. Toluene has been a part of the industry for years.

Other countries such as Europe and the US have banned its use for a number of years and have been able to use other alternative methods of printing. The ban officially became effective July 1st, 2021. But what is Toluene, and what does it mean going forward for companies in the packaging industry?

Toluene and its Impact

Toluene or methylbenzene is a hazardous, clear, colorless liquid that turns into vapor when exposed to air at room temperature. Toluene vapors have a pungent or sweet odor – often described as paint thinner, which is a clear sign the ink has been exposed. It is typically used mixed with other solvents and chemicals such as colored pigments. Toluene occurs naturally in crude oil like gasoline, lacquers, and glues.

When used in food packaging, Toluene also has a number of acute and chronic health concerns, including eye and throat issues, breathing difficulties, and an increased chance of developing allergies and asthma, to name a few.


 The New Set Standard 

This landmark decision will pave the way for a healthy and sustainable food experience for everyone. The requirements are related to a wide array of standards including: appearance, color, purity, and acidity, among others associated with the packages’ chemical makeup.

The containers these products come in must be agreed upon beforehand between the purchaser and supplier, and must be labeled with information about the

substance and manufacturer. A Standard Mark may be displayed to show the company has conformed and received certification under the Indian Standards Act, 2016.


 A Big Step Forward in Health

Although prices are expected to rise with the new regulations as companies begin transitioning to alternative and safer inks – a concern many small to medium companies have come forward with, the implications for a brighter future in packaging, especially in the food industry, is mounting.

Although Toluene is relatively cheap and easy to manufacture, as with its uncertain future in the industry, prices for both packaging and their products will begin to decrease. It will also make it easier and safer for consumers and companies alike.

As the need for more eco-friendly and sustainable packaging grows, Indian companies can begin to move their goods to other countries who currently have these regulations in place, which will help expand the market and bring their goods to other parts of the world.

This does not mean that having completely Toluene-free packaging meets the ethical standards of other countries, as these can still contain other harmful solvents and chemicals. This is why it is important for all parties involved to remain vigilant and keep close contact to better ensure compliance with new safety criteria.

This new development can also be used as a marketing tactic, embodying a more natural and safe Toluene-free experience which many consumers are more than willing to pay extra for. It’s about quality over quantity and it seems the trend is only increasing. With an increased demand for sustainability in products, this will only lead to a stronger relationship between the consumer and the company.

To find out more information about flexible packaging material, machinery, inks, and more, reach out to one of our sales representatives so we can get you the perfect digital solution for your business.


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