Processes for safe use of recycled PET in food contact material have been adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA has adopted scientific opinion on ten recycling processes based on applied recycling technology, and has concluded that these do not give rise to safety concerns if operated under well-defined and controlled conditions.
These opinion are the first of a series on recycled plastic for food use, and one this series is completed, will inform the decisions of the European Commission regarding the authorisation of the evaluated processes. Once this happens, recycled plastics used in food packaging, food containers and other food contact materials should only be obtained from processes which have been assessed for safety by EFSA and authorised by risk managers.
Three opinions have been adopted by the EFSA’s panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids and concluded that the recycling processes it looked at would not give rise to safety concerns if the proportion of PET from non-food consumer applications does not exceed 5 per cent.
Its evaluations only looked at the safety of mechanical recycling processes, in which used consumer plastics are collected, ground into small flakes and decontaminated, before being processed into new materials for use in the food chain. Collected plastics used in mechanical recycling that might have been previously contaminated with chemicals that are not suitable for food contact applications.
Therefore, producers are required to demonstrated that their process can reduce chemical contaminants in the recycled plastic to such a level that potential migration of any residual chemicals does not pose a risk for human health. EFSA looked at four recycling processes based on VACUREMA Prime technology, five processes based on Starlinger IV+ technology and the PETUK SSP recycling process.