Packaging with lives at stake

/ins Sometimes people who work with food packaging feel tied down by all the regulations and standards that exist to guarantee safety. However, the regulations for packaging medical technology (“medtech”) products are equally complex. These products must be manufactured in a sterile environment and then transported all the way into an operating room without risking contamination. Otherwise, people’s very lives could be in danger.

One of the most important requirements is that the packaging solution can successfully deliver the product – which might be an implant or surgical equipment – into the operating room. To ensure this, numerous standards place demands on the packaging material’s permeability, that it can withstand the sterilisation process, that its closures are durable, that the materials do not allow microorganisms to pass through them, and much, much more.

All these requirements must not only be met, they must also be documented with the support of statistically significant data.  Quality control systems that emphasise risk management must of course be in place. The natural explanation for why medtech packaging regulations are so stringent is partly that people’s lives can be at risk. Another reason is that the product itself is of high value, especially if its underlying R&D costs are included in the calculations. Last but not least, huge costs could result if something goes wrong – if a product’s packaging is inadequate the manufacturer may have to do a major recall and could also be held responsible for non-delivery.

“I’ve seen examples where a medical implant is packed in a sealable bag made of a plastic material, put inside an outer packaging made of paperboard, and then put inside a transport packaging made of cardboard,” says Ian Huskinson, Technical Service Manager at Iggesund Paperboard. “Then the transport packages are stacked onto a pallet and secured with shrink wrap. The whole pallet is then loaded into a sterilisation chamber and sterilised.”

Supplying material for use in medtech packaging can also involve demands that rarely occur in other industries. Because all input materials must go through extensive and thereby costly qualification and validation processes, subsequently altering or replacing them is strongly discouraged.

“Sometimes we must commit to not making any changes to the product’s composition for a number of years into the future. That might mean we have to abstain from improving a product even though we could do so – but that’s the price of being considered as a supplier to the medtech market,” Ian Huskinson emphasises.

“One of our foremost assets in this context, in addition to the purity and hygiene that are associated with using virgin fibre, is our strong focus on product consistency,” he adds.

Both of Iggesund Paperboard’s paperboard brands, Invercote and Incada, are used in a number of medtech applications.

Caption 1: An implant must be transported from its sterile manufacturing environment to the operating room without risking contamination.

Caption 2 : “One of our foremost assets in this context, in addition to the purity and hygiene associated with using virgin fibre, is our strong focus on product consistency,” emphasises Ian Huskinson of Iggesund Paperboard.

Iggesund

Iggesund Paperboard is part of the Swedish forest industry group Holmen, one of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies listed on the United Nations Global Compact Index. Iggesund’s turnover is just over €500 million and its flagship product Invercote is sold in more than 100 countries. The company has two brand families, Invercote and Incada, both positioned at the high end of their respective segments. Since 2010 Iggesund has invested more than €380 million to increase its energy efficiency and reduce the fossil emissions from its production.

Iggesund and the Holmen Group report all their fossil carbon emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. The environmental data form an integral part of an annual report that complies with the Global Reporting Initiative’s highest level of sustainability reporting. Iggesund was founded as an iron mill in 1685, but has been making paperboard for more than 50 years. The two mills, in northern Sweden and northern England employ 1500 people.

Further information:

Staffan Sjöberg
Public Relations Manager
staffan.sjoberg@iggesund.com

Iggesund Paperboard
SE-825 80 Sweden
Tel: +4665028256
Mobile: +46703064800
www.iggesund.com

 

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Head office Iggesund Paperboard
Iggesund Paperboard AB
SE-825 80 Iggesund
Sweden / Sverige
Phone: +46 650 280 00
Fax: +46 650 288 00

info@iggesund.com

www.iggesund.com

Press contact

Staffan Sjöberg
Phone: +46 650 282 56
Mobile: +46 70 306 48 00

Staffan.Sjoberg@iggesund.com

Via social media

The Iggesund Mill

Making the world’s best paperboard is easy. You need water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow a seedling into a tree. Then you need sustainable forest management that can deliver first-class timber. There must be a pulp mill and a paperboard mill, and then distribution channels to get the paperboard to everyone who wants to use it. Most important of all, though, to the manufacture of Invercote are the skilled professionals who do their best – people who are proud of what they achieve and do not compromise on the quality of their work. Iggesunds Mill has traditions stretching back to 1685. Throughout that time dedicated individuals have done their utmost to use the renewable forest to benefit other people.

A world-class mill

Iggesund Mill (including Strömsbruk Mill) in Sweden is one of the most advanced, fully integrated pulp and paperboard mills in the world. Not least thanks to our long term majority owner, we have very well invested mills. There are many benefits having an integrated saw mill – we manage raw material together and we can use all the waste from their production to either make pulp or energy. In return we feed the saw mill with steam used to dry the timber. At Iggesund Mill, 100% of the pulp used to make Invercote is produced on location and pumped wet to the board machine. This means that we use no market pulp. Not drying the pulp preserves some mechanical properties of the fibres.

This advanced technology – hundreds of metres of paperboard machines – is controlled by employees with various forms of special expertise. The machines work around the clock and year round to produce tonne after tonne of dazzling white paperboard. Technical perfection and numerical control processes are all well and good but for excellent results you also need team spirit and a good working atmosphere. Invercote’s unique properties are the result of the interplay between expertise, a positive spirit and cutting-edge technology.

Actively investing in bioenergy

In 2012 the new recovery boiler was inaugurated at Iggesund Mill, an investment made possible by the long term perspective of our majority owner. With it in operation, the mill produces all the heat it needs, and can also provide district heating to the nearby community. It also produces nearly all the electricity needed for the mill, and is connected to the grid to be able to output excess electricity if needed. As the new boiler was trimmed into operation, it drastically reduced a lot of emissions between 2013 and 2014: fossil CO2 by >85%, particles by ~45% and sulphur by ~35%

With the installation and trimming of the new recovery boiler, emissions to air have reduced drastically from already low levels – graph being updated shortly. Measurements have shown that only 1% of particles in the air of Iggesund village comes from the mill. The majority of particles comes from domestic fire places and cars.

Care for our customers and their businesses

Paperboard must be there when the customer needs it. All the quality features in the world are meaningless if the deliveries don’t arrive in time. Delivery precision is a high priority. A maritime transport system guarantees overseas customers receive shipments with the lowest possible environmental impact. The service doesn’t stop there. Every tonne of Invercote comes with access to documentation and knowledge about how to make best use of the paperboard. The knowledge and market-based technical support provided by Iggesund, help customers to achieve dazzling end results and optimal production economics.

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