EU Commission adopts updated food-contact recycled plastic requirements

EU Commission adopts updated food-contact recycled plastic requirements

LONDON (ICIS)–The EU Commission has adopted legislation
updating rules on food-contact recycled
material requirement, which encompass both
mechanical and chemical recycling.

Along with restrictions on the type of input
waste used for recycling to food contact, the
legislation mandates the use of “suitable
technologies” for recycling waste, which
currently only include mechanical polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) recycling, and chemically
uncontaminated closed-loop recycling “not
collected in mixed form, and/or from
consumers”, and re-used in the same type of
product they have originated from.

Nevertheless, there is an exemption from the
regulation for plastic waste used to
manufacture substances under Article 5 of
Regulation (EU) No 10/2011, as long as they are
intended for subsequent use in accordance with
that regulation. This would appear to
potentially exempt chemical recyclers reverting
material back to monomers.

The legislation does give a limited exemption
for food-contact material produced using novel
recycling technologies to be traded on the
market until enough evidence can be gathered
for a decision to be made on the suitability of
the technology, subject to a public reporting
process.

Novel technologies would also be exempted from
waste input requirements.

Nevertheless, the legislation would appear to
require that once approved, and no longer novel
technologies, that the input limitations listed
in the paragraphs above would then apply. This
would be potentially problematic for chemical
recyclers relying on post-industrial waste and
reject bales input waste and reverting material
further back than monomer.

To be deemed a novel technology under the
proposals, developers would have to demonstrate
how the novel technology differs from existing
technologies.

The regulation uses the definition of recycling
set out in Directive 2008/98/EC, in which
recycling is “any recovery operation by which
waste materials are reprocessed into products,
materials or substances whether for the
original or other purposes. It includes the
reprocessing of organic material but does not
include energy recovery and the reprocessing
into materials that are to be used as fuels or
for backfilling operations”, which has left the
legal status of chemical recycling uncertain.

Additional reporting by Caroline
Murray

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