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Food and Feed Safety (04-04-2008)

Commission regulation on the use of safe recycled plastics in food packaging

In order to ensure that food packaging made of recycled plastics is safe, the European Commission adopted recently a regulation. This action sets the conditions under which the manufacturers of food contact materials can use recycled plastics. The regulation aims to create a more efficient and practical system for regulating the use of recycled plastics in food packaging. It will guarantee EU consumers that only safe recycled plastic will reach the market. It will also help Europe's packaging and food industry to contribute to the sustainable use of natural resources as well as achieve the targets for recycling of packaging waste.
Food contact materials are those intended or reasonably expected to come into contact with food. They include food packaging, but also machines for food manufacturing and household ware. These materials should not release into the food substances that may pose a risk to human health. The majority of food contact materials are for food packaging. Recycled plastic is predominantly used in the production of beverage bottles, but also in the manufacture of crates and pallets for food transport.
Until now, national rules were lacking or divergent. They ranged from a ban on recycled plastic in contact with food, to authorisation schemes or recommendations. The Regulation is now harmonising these rules at European level.
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