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Beyond REACH

ArcelorMittal Europe enhances the sustainability of steels for packaging with new solutions

ArcelorMittal Europe’s steels for packaging are amongst the safest and most recycled packaging materials available in Europe today. But did you know that ArcelorMittal is already taking the next steps to ensure our steels for packaging remain in line with European Union rules on the registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restriction of chemicals (known as REACH regulations)? One of the latest innovations has been the elimination of hexavalent chromium during the tinplate passivation production process. The new and innovative tinplate passivation system – known as the Chromium-Free Passivation Alternative (CFPA) – was developed in Europe by members of the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL) including ArcelorMittal.

Almost all tinplate is passivated to control the growth of oxides and ensure the high-level performance of the can. Hexavalent chromium chemicals (also known as chromium 6 or Cr(VI)) have been globally used in the passivation production process for many decades. “There is no risk to consumers as the finished tinplate product is completely free of Cr(VI),” says Richard Lézé, Packaging CMO for ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products. “However, there could be a risk for workers and the environment. Although ArcelorMittal has always maintained a strong focus on safety and production risk management, it is better to eliminate Cr(VI) in the production process.”

CFPA to replace standard tinplate passivation by 2027

The use of Cr(VI) is controlled under REACH. Since 2017 its use has been restricted to specific applications for a strictly limited time. Cr(VI) chemicals must be eliminated from the tinplate passivation process by 2027. To ensure a smooth transition for everyone in the value chain, it is now time to accelerate the packaging industry’s transition to CFPA.

Several thousand tonnes of CFPA have already been produced and delivered to customers for various applications. The material is already incorporated into relevant standards including EN 10202 and ASTM. It also complies with food contact legislation in several regions and countries including the EU, the USA, China, and Mercosur.

To ensure CFPA offers an equivalent level of performance in packaging, the material has been undergoing a major validation process for several years. The validation process has involved  the entire value chain including canmakers and lacquer producers. All market segments and product categories have been covered. “The majority of tests have been completed successfully,” says Quentin Benito, Product Development Manager for Packaging Coatings, ArcelorMittal – Global R&D. “Optimised lacquers are being developed to address the requirements of specific applications.”

As more countries outside Europe adopt restrictions or their own REACH-like regulations, the European CFPA solution could easily become the global standard.

LTS – ArcelorMittal’s Cr-free solution to replace ECCS by 2028

The production process for Electrolytic Chromium Coated Steel (ECCS) also involves the use of Cr(VI) chemicals. They are also subject to specific time-limited authorisations. ArcelorMittal Europe and our Global R&D team have developed a low tin coated steel (LTS) as a substitute for ECCS. “LTS is the only 100-percent Cr-free alternative on the market,” says Richard Lézé. “ArcelorMittal’s LTS offer is currently being optimised to answer the different performance requirements of the market.”

New sustainable solutions ready for testing

To support the packaging industry, ArcelorMittal Europe is developing a range of Bisphenol-A Non-Intended (BPA-NI) coil coated products which are also free of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). “A BPA-NI coil coated steel for aerosol mounting cups is already available,” notes Richard Lézé. “It can be supplied using our CFPA tinplate to further ensure the sustainability of the product. We will be sharing more news on this at the January 2024 edition of Paris Packaging Week.”

“Customers who want to trial any of the innovations mentioned should get in touch with their regular ArcelorMittal Europe contact,” says Richard Lézé. “This is particularly important for potential CFPA customers as the clock is ticking on the use of Cr(VI). The deadline is 2027.”

Future challenges in the packaging industry, such as the strengthening of regulations and improvement of the industry’s environmental footprint are anticipated. “ArcelorMittal is actively developing the surfaces and coatings of the future,” says Quentin Benito, Product Development Manager for Packaging Coatings, ArcelorMittal – Global R&D. “We are aiming for a better sustainability performance and improved energy management while ensuring at least the same level of performance and food safety.” 

Meet us at Paris Packaging Week 2024

ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products will again be present at Paris Packaging Week from 17 to 18 January 2024. Visit our stand to find out more about innovative steels for packaging from the world’s largest steelmaker.

More info and registration:

A BPA-NI coil coated CFPA tinplate offer for aerosol mounting cups is already available from ArcelorMittal Europe

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