BLOG TOPIC: Flint Group inks support printers to comply with Germany’s nitrocellulose restrictions

The new restrictions on nitrocellulose (NC) based inks introduced in Germany may leave some printers asking how they can ensure their packaging is still recyclable. As a result, ink choices are becoming more critical for businesses committed to circularity.

In June 2023, Germany’s Central Office for Packaging Recycling (ZVSR) published a new minimum standard against which packaging recyclability will be assessed. Among other measures, this change means that NC-based inks are now classed as non-recyclable when used with polyolefin laminated structures.

The new measures were introduced in response to research showing how NC-based inks can interfere with recycling processes when used with certain materials, specifically those with polyolefin composite structures. High temperatures can affect NC inks, which can cause thermal instability during the extrusion stage of mechanical recycling, which may lead to the recycled material being discoloured or otherwise impaired, rendering it unsuitable for reuse.

While the change to the minimum standard by the ZVSR does not prohibit using NC-based inks, it does mean that any packaging using NC inks cannot be recycled, and businesses involved may face additional charges as part of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

Both external studies and Flint Group’s research show that inks using polyurethane (PU) as a binder do not suffer from the same problems as NC-based solutions during recycling. As a result, at Flint Group, we recommend both flexographic and rotogravure printers consider switching to our NC-free solutions.

Both the VertixCode (Flexo) and MatrixCode (Gravure) ink series are PU-based and provide optimised colour strength and opacity, ensuring consistent print quality at high print speeds. Both series are available as ready-to-use or with Flint Group’s ‘universal base concept’, with Whites also offered in both ranges.

Combined with either solvent-based or solvent-free adhesives, these inks provide excellent bond strength on a variety of substrates and are already being used successfully with various packaging structures.

Moreover, Flint Group is developing flexographic and rotogravure printing ink solutions for surface/reverse applications. Based on our universal base range, these inks will enable formulation with or without NC and are planned to be available for qualification trials in 2024.

With a wide range of NC-free solutions available for most print requirements, Flint Group is here to support your business as you adapt to the changing standards of recyclability.


For more information about how we can help or to find out more about our NC-free ranges, contact


The aim of our technical documents is to inform and advise our customers. The information provided herein is correct to the best of Flint Group’s knowledge. No liability for any errors, facts or opinions is accepted. Customers must satisfy themselves as to the suitability of this product for their application. No responsibility for any loss as a result of any person placing reliance on any material contained herein will be accepted. Product names followed by ® are trademarks registered by Flint Group (represented by Flint Group US LLC or Flint Group Germany GmbH).