Mitsubishi HiTec Paper Europe
Statement on the EU Single Use Plastics Directive

21.09.2021 Mitsubishi HiTec Paper produces recyclable barrier papers with water-based coatings for food and non-food packaging under the brand name barricote. In the EU, the so-called SUPD (Single Use Plastics Directive) has created a great deal of uncertainty for this innovative and sustainable packaging material, on which the company has published a statement.

Barricote products are used, among other things, as wrapping papers for foodstuffs.
© Photo: Mitsubishi Hitec Paper Europe
Barricote products are used, among other things, as wrapping papers for foodstuffs.

Two years after the Single-Use Plastics Directive (EU) 2019/904 came into force in the European Union, the member states had to transpose the directive into national law by 3 July 2021. The German subsidiary of Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd., Japan, expressly supports the goal of avoiding and reducing littering and pollution caused by single-use plastic.

No clarity in the terminology

The guidelines published at the end of May 2021 were supposed to bring clarity to the interpretation of the terms used in the directive. Unfortunately, according to Mitsubishi HiTec Paper, the opposite was the case, as the terminological provisions in the guidelines had led to a great deal of uncertainty in paper production and processing. In particular, this concerns the statements on what is meant by a "main structural component" and a "plastic coating". It is true that the regulation and the guideline emphasise that paper can function as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic articles. At the same time, however, it states: "However, when a plastic coating [...] is applied to the surface of a material made of paper or board or any other material in order to provide protection against water or grease, the final product is considered as a composite article, [...] and [falls] [...] within the scope of the Directive."

Not to be equated with plastic coating

In this context, the company explicitly points out that the application of aqueous dispersions to the paper surface, which it uses for the production of its barricote barrier papers, cannot be equated with a "plastic coating" – as named in the guidelines. In other words, no separate plastic layer is created, but instead the natural and synthetic materials selectively protect the underlying paper from external influences without creating a structuring or removable plastic layer.

According to Mitsubishi HiTec Paper Europe, these contradictory and ambiguous definitions led to a great deal of uncertainty in future product design. They hindered the development of innovative biogenic and paper-based materials in the packaging sector, which would be developed with the demand for the best possible recyclability and biodegradability.

Clarity demanded

The manufacturer therefore supports the demand of the PTS (Papiertechnische Stiftung) and the association DIE PAPIERINDUSTRIE e.V. to the legislative bodies to create clarity in the interpretations of the directive and laws in the interest of the companies subject to the law, and to explicitly exclude papers with water-based dispersion coatings from the scope of the directive.