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Circular economy: new European standards to allow the use of recycled plastic in food packaging

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On September 15th, the European Commission adopted new rules for the safety of recycled plastics intended to come into contact with food products. This is a further step towards achieving the objectives of the Circular Economy Action Plan, a topic that’s crucial for the goals proposed by Erasmus+ project 2Good2Go.

Regulation No. 1616/2022 repeals the previous Regulation (Reg. No. 282/2008) and introduces new rules concerning recycled plastics that come into contact with food products. Since these recycled materials come from waste, they could be contaminated with toxic substances and are therefore subject to specific legislation. In particular, the Regulation allows the authorisation of recycling processes for the manufacture of safe recycled plastic materials to be used in food packaging, and will benefit the recycle industry in establishing adequate methods of recycling plastic that currently can’t be reutilized for food packaging. The recycling process is assessed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides the criteria for evaluating the safety of recycling processes to ensure that those are not harmful to public health.

Individual permits will be granted for over 200 mechanical recycling processes of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), already assessed by EFSA, thus helping the industry in achieving the binding target of 25% recycled plastic in PET beverage bottles by 2025. A public register of recycling processes, recyclers, and recycling plants used in these processes will also be instituted, ensuring a greater level of transparency.