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EFSA opinion on PET food-contact recycling

EU – The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has spelled out how it will evaluate different technologies used by recyclers to turn PET from post-consumer waste into food-contact materials.

The new opinion from EFSA’s Panel on Food Contact Materials assigns clear arithmetic values to specific criteria – such as residual contamination levels – which will determine whether a particular process gains a positive risk assessment from the authority.

Since it is impossible to identify with certainty the substances to which post-consumer packaging may have been exposed, the panel specifies a series of challenge tests using surrogates with different polarities and molecular weights to represent different classes of contaminant.

The principle of the evaluation was to apply the cleaning efficiency of a recycling technology or process (obtained from challenge tests) to a reference contamination level for post-consumer PET, conservatively set at 3 mg per kg PET for a contaminant resulting from possible misuse. The panel’s opinion also looks upstream at the collection systems providing raw materials to the recycling plants.

It is deemed that post-consumer PET may include containers for toiletries, cleaning products and other non-food applications, as well as containers that have been misused by people for more dangerous products. It says: ‘As a pre-requisite, the panel considers that input based on containers coming from non-food uses should not be intentionally used. The panel considered appropriate that the proportion of PET from non-food consumer applications should be no more than 5% in the input to be recycled.’

 

The report can be downloaded below.

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