The absence of EU legal framework on the safety of processes to recycle plastics for use in food contact materials prolongs the lack of harmonisation amongst member states and generates legal uncertainty and unnecessary burden for the industry using recycled materials, says Plastics Recyclers Europe.

Nine years have passed since the publication of regulation number 282/2008, which set up the rules on the use of recycled plastic materials in food applications. To this date, the European Food Safety Authority has adopted more than 140 positive scientific opinions. Following these opinions, the European Commission is now a position to officially authorise the evaluated processes, which it hasn’t done.

Casper van den Dungen, vice president and chairman of the PET Working Group, said: “More than €500 million ($425m) 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 per cent of the recycled PET in Europe was used in food contact applications. But 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.”

Executive director of Petcore Europe Christian Crépet added: “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.”