Upcoming changes in restrictions on the use of UV coatings in China will have a significant effect on how companies package their goods. Now is the time to figure out alternative solutions and suppliers for finish coatings.

What’s happening
In an effort to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the Chinese government is undertaking a Blue Sky initiative set for implementation in key regions of the country with dense populations by July 1, 2020. When VOCs react with nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone is created, which can cause respiratory problems. Before the end of 2019, new mandatory standards will be set for coatings, inks, adhesives, cleaning agents and other VOC-producing items often used in product packaging.

Impact on product packaging now
The runway is short to develop and implement an alternative solution for finish coatings on product packaging. Printing companies in China do not have the resources necessary to react quickly enough to meet the new standards. It is likely that some Chinese companies will close because they cannot keep up. At some point in the near future, industry in China will catch up to standard Western best practices of manufacturing with low or O VOC coatings. But in the near term to maintain product packaging operations, it is a critical time to transition away from UV coatings and find new suppliers.

Recommended action
It is important to standardize finish coatings for packaging. Instead of UV coatings, water-based aqueous coatings and polypropylene (PP) coatings are a better choice until China manufacturers offer low or O VOC of UV finish coatings.

  • Water-based aqueous coatings protect the surface of the printed piece from average rub resistance with a medium to bright luster.
  • PP coatings are polymer-based coatings (laminate) that provide good protection with a medium, gloss or matte finish.

These two types of coating should cover most packaging applications. There will be fewer suppliers from which to choose, and production costs may increase slightly. But long-term any extra cost is offset by the continuity of packing operations.

PriZm can help
PriZm Packaging Solutions in Bentonville, AR is working closely with a number of clients to help them get in front of the changing Chinese landscape. Because in general UV coatings are more durable, it is important to work with a partner that understands how alternate coatings can affect the presentation of colors as well the performance of packaging as it moves through the supply chain.

PriZm advises companies about how to best address their specific packaging needs now with alternative coatings and suppliers and works with them long term to develop more permanent solutions. PriZm taps long-term relationships with suppliers in Asia and Western countries to help transition production with minimal impact to supply chain efficiency.