Europe: Almost a decade after the publication of a regulation establishing rules for use of recycled plastic materials in food applications, and despite the European Food Safety Authority’s adoption of more than 140 positive scientific opinions on the safety of processes to recycle plastics for use in food-contact materials, the European Commission has made no move to officially authorise the evaluated processes and is thus setting up ‘an obstacle to the circular economy’, it has been claimed by leading industry representatives.
More than Euro 500 million (around US$ 600 million) has been invested by companies in plants capable of transforming recycled plastic into materials suitable for packaging and food-contact applications.
‘But EU businesses are still in a legislative no-man’s land due to years of delay,’ laments Casper van den Dungen, vice president of Plastics Recyclers Europe and chairman of the PET Working Group. ‘This uncertainty leads to decline in investments and more importantly to a possible mistrust in the legislation ruling food-contact materials.’
Christian Crépet, executive director of Petcore Europe, points out: ‘Although PET is one of the most widely recycled polymers, the absence of regulation results in a lack of market visibility for sales of recycled PET. This situation affects the whole value chain from virgin production up to waste management.’
And Alexandre Dangis, managing director of the EuPC plastics converters association, insists: ‘In order to realise a real circular economy in the European Union, we ask the EU Commission to unlock this bureaucratic situation very urgently. Industry needs to remain competitive at global level and very important investments have been made by hundreds of companies in Europe to comply with this EU regulation.’