BillerudKorsnäs secures medical paper production 

Production of Medical Papers During Covid-19 Pandemic

BillerudKorsnäs is ensuring the stable production of medical papers for medical packaging across the globe during the Covid-19 pandemic Photo BillerudKorsnäs

What is BillerudKorsnäs doing to ensure timely deliveries of medical papers in the unique situation of the Covid-19 pandemic? Now more than ever, BillerudKorsnäs has a particular role to play in ensuring the stable production of medical papers for medical packaging across the globe.

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting us all in ways that we could have never foreseen. What BillerudKorsnäs can do and are doing in these difficult times is, besides to ensure the safest possible working environment for our employees, is to provide stable production of SteriKraft and MediKraft medical paper to our medical packaging customers all over the world.

In its mills in Skärblacka and Beetham, the company has prioritized production for medical paper and its overall logistic flow, and it is prioritizing deliveries of SteriKraft and MediKraft medical paper. In addition, BillerudKorsnäs has comprehensive contingency plans in place to mitigate any potential interruptions due to raw material, other resources, and workers. The company’s cross-functional geographical teams, together with sales, do their utmost to keep maintain the highest service level in all regions.

Designed to keep devices sterile

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a much more widespread understanding of the importance of sterile medical supplies and devices has emerged. Healthcare workers require a vast number of sterile medical devices such as syringes, gloves, dressings, and other products. Medical packaging is essential in ensuring that devices are sterile and clean at the point of use.

The ability to keep medical devices sterile that is free from microorganisms from the time of sterilization until the point of use, is the single most important function of medical packaging. Medical packaging papers are used alongside many other materials, including packaging films, semi-rigid plastic trays, non-wovens, and other materials to form the sterile barrier systems needed to keep medical devices sterile.

The effective barrier properties of medical papers are achieved through their multilayer fiber structure, an effective tortuous path of pores, and a well-balanced composition of paper properties. The tortuous path produces a uniform and consistent bacteriological and fluid barrier to maintain sterility and prevent microorganisms from reaching the sterile contents.

Ensuring the microbial barrier

The most common test for microbial barrier used in Europe is DIN 58953-6. During the test, a highly concentrated bacterial solution is dropped onto the tested material. Then on the opposite side, it is contacted with nutrition agar to check if any bacteria has come through the paper.

Stringent requirements

Stringent requirements on medical packaging and its design entail very high demands on the materials used. The material must be appropriate for the intended use, compatible with the chosen sterilization method, and designed to maintain sterility. To ensure that the material used in the packaging is fit for purpose, it must comply with international standards – the two most important ones being ISO 11607 (part 1) and EN 868 (parts 2-10).

ISO 11607 – specifies the requirements and test methods for materials and packaging, which must be fulfilled. EN 868 parts 2 to 10 – specify demands on mechanical, physical, and chemical parameters related to a specific type of packaging and packaging material.

Rigorous testing

Before BillerudKorsnäs places any paper grades on the market to be used in medical packaging, a series of different tests are performed to ensure compliance with relevant standards. The paper is produced according to the product standard EN 868, which specifies high demands on mechanical, physical, and chemical parameters.

The corresponding paper parameters, such as tear and burst strength, porosity, and pore size, to name a few, are continuously controlled in the paper mill, to make sure the medical packaging paper always complies with the standard. Before the paper is ready to be delivered to its customers (converters and industrial medical device manufacturers), additional testing is performed to ensure that the paper fulfills all requirements according to ISO 11607.

The above article based on a press release has been edited by Naresh Khanna

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