The regulation on the use of recycled plastic materials in food applications was published by the EU over nine years ago. The EFSA, or European Food Safety Authority, has issued upward of 140 positive scientific opinions on the safety of processes to recycle plastics for use in food contact materials.
The European Commission could therefore officially authorize the evaluated processes. To date, however, it has displayed no initiative in that direction.
The absence of EU legal framework prolongs the lack of harmonisation amongst Member States and generates legal uncertainty and unnecessary burden for the industry using recycled materials.
It also sets up obstacles for the Circular Economy
Plastics Recyclers Europe vice-president Casper van den Dungen, who also chairs the PET Working Group, noted that companies have invested over €500m in plants capable of converting recycled plastic materials into materials suitable for packaging and food contact applications.
“In 2014, more than 50% of the recycled PET in Europe was used in food contact applications. But EU businesses are still in a legislative no-man's land due to years of delay,” he said.
“This uncertainty leads to decline in investments and more importantly to a possible mistrust in the legislation ruling food contact materials.”
These sentiments were echoed by organisations across the value chain, from Petcore Europe to EuPC.
The PET value chain urges the Commission to authorize recycling processes positively evaluated by EFSA. This authorization would ensure harmonization of the market and remove any legal uncertainty in trading recycled materials in food contact applications. It will also enable to drive circular economy for plastics by opening new markets for plastics recyclates.