While it is dragging its feet the European Commission is actually in a position to authorise evaluated processes for food grade plastics recycling, according to trade association, European Plastic Converters (EuPC).
More than 9 years have passed since the publication of the Regulation (EC) No. 282/2008 setting up the rules on the use of recycled plastic materials in food applications.
To this date, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has adopted more than 140 positive scientific opinions on the safety of processes to recycle plastics for use in food contact materials.
Trade association, European Plastic Converters (EuPC) explained that the European Commission is in a position to officially authorise the evaluated processes. However, it has not taken any initiative in that direction so far.
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.
“More than €500 million have been invested by companies in plants which can transform 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,” explained Casper van den Dungen, PRE Vice-President & Chairman of the PET Working Group.
“However, EU businesses are still in a legislative no-man’s land due to years of delay. This uncertainty leads to decline in investments and more importantly to a possible mistrust in the legislation ruling food contact materials,” he added.
Other organisations from across the value chain joined the call.
“Food contact development is subject to clear regulations. Although PET is one of the most widely recycled polymer, 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. Investment is down and the "bottle-to-bottle" activity should be facilitated,” said Christian Crépet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe.
Alexandre Dangis, Managing Director, EuPC added: “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.”
Patricia Fosselard, EFBW Secretary General, emphasised that: “Natural mineral and spring water producers are important users of recycled plastic (PET). Having a harmonized European framework on recycling processes will pave the way for greater use of recycled plastic and foster circular economy while bringing legal certainty to recyclers and users alike.”
EuPC concluded that the PET value chain is urging the Commission to authorise recycling processes positively evaluated by EFSA.
It said that this would ensure harmonisation of the market and remove any legal uncertainty in trading recycled materials in food contact applications. It will also enable to drive the circular economy for plastics by opening new markets for plastics recyclates.
IN DEPTH: Redefining Plastics in the Circular Economy
With growing concern across the plastics value chain WMW looks at a number of ambitious recently been launched circular economy initiatives.
IN DEPTH: Smarter Plastics for a Circular Economy
Trying to achieve a circular economy with existing plastics is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Zoë Lenkiewicz explains why doing better means embracing change.
US Plastic Waste Expert Address South African Meeting on Marine Debris
Dr. Jenna Jambeck, a plastic waste expert from the University of Georgia, has taken part in a visit as part of the U.S. Embassy’s support of South Africa as a regional leader in addressing marine debris.