EPA PBT Compliance Request

November 24, 2021

We recently received a request from a customer to sign a form/letter stating that we were compliant with the new EPA regulations on PBT’s in the boxes we manufacture for them. Have you heard of any other box maker that have been asked to sign such documents?

They also reference compliance to RoHS requirements.

Regarding the PBT compliance, probably the best and most efficient thing to do is contact your suppliers and request a reply, in writing, to the questions your customer has asked, and/or a COA (Certificate of Compliance) for both the EPA and RoHS regulations. You may be able to collect this information from their Safety Data Sheets, but make for you have the latest official documents from them, and if possible, make sure they are original documents and not photocopies.

The chemicals referenced in the January 2021 EPS issued rule include Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), Phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) – (PIP 3:1), 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol (2,4,6-TTBP), Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), and Pentachlorothiophenol (PTCP).

Typically we don’t think you’re going to find the chemicals in the EPA description in the paperboard, inks, or starch adhesives used to make standard corrugated packaging. We don’t know the exact extent of the information your customer is asking for, but if you are shipping product to your customer on plastic pallets, with plastic strapping, or plastic wrapping, you may want to request information from your suppliers of those products as well.

We have had a few discussions on RoHS compliance previously in this blog. In the sidebar under “Search Ask Ralph” type RoHS and hit enter to find these articles.

Do any of our readers and followers have any information or experiences to share on this topic?

— Ralph

Linerboard Coefficient of Friction (COF) Target and Max

February 3, 2021

Cassie asks,

I’m doing some investigation to determine what is the minimum, target and maximum COF (coefficient of friction) for linerboard. Can you point me to any information on this?

Instead of answering your question directly from a mill process point of view, which we can do, here are a couple links to several specification sheets from domestic mills. (Domestic High Performance Linerboard, COF Spec Sheets or Slide Angle)

The Europeans do not seem to deliniate slide angle as a physical property characteristic.  Since they have been making linerboard from recovered fibre much longer than we have in the Americas, it may be just universally understood there.

Let me know more if you have more specific questions. I would also recommend membership in TAPPI’s Corrugated Board Technical Committee where you will have access to the best minds in this business.

—Ralph

Stitching Tolerance

December 30, 2020

Dave asks,

 We have an old foot pedal stitcher we manually stitch boxes with. Is there a standard spacing between staples that we must maintain?

Dave, this was a new one for me.  Took a bit of research using a number of resources, but this should address your question.

Singlewall: Starting and ending staples shall be 1 to 1½ inches from the flap score lines.  Intermediate staples shall be spaced no more than 2½ inches apart.

Doublewall: Starting and ending staples shall be double stitched no more than 1 to 1½ inches from the flap score lines.  Intermediate staples shall be spaced no more than 2½ inches apart.  For products weighting 100 lbs. or more spacing of intermediate staples shall be reduced to 1 to 1½ inches apart.

Triplewall: Starting and ending staples shall be double stitched no more than 1 to 1½ inches from the flap score lines.  Intermediate staples shall be double stitched and spaced no more than 1 to 1½ inches apart.

— Ralph

Hazmat Linerboard Weight Tolerance

December 30, 2020

Dave asks,

What does the AICC hazmat guide say about tolerances on basis weight? Customer says they must run: “We must run the 31-31-35 hazmat board combo” but the corrugator no longer runs that combo.

The DOT has relaxed the “49 CFR 178.516 – Standards for fiberboard boxes” from +/- 5% to now allow +/- 10 percent basis weight tolerance in the linerboards.

Per the Legal Information Institute “UN4G combination packaging with outer fiberboard boxes and with inner fiberboard components that have individual containerboard or paper wall basis weights that vary by not more than plus or minus 10% from the nominal basis weight reported in the initial design qualification test report.” Click on this link to learn more at the Legal Information Institute.

How did your customer arrive at the 31-31-35 combination? Is it from a previous requirement? As long as they the meet the strength requirements for the content it should be acceptable to use another combination. The +/-10% relates to the base weight of the liner used and may not mean that you could directly substitute a 28lb for a 31lb. If a 28lb liner is used then the tolerance would be +/-10% of the 28.

So I think it would be important to first see if you can provide a combination that meets their strength requirements WHILE remaining while remaining within the +/-10% tolerance.

— Ralph