In the recent article in Kunststoffe International, titled Food Safe Post Consumer Recyclate, Christoph Woss, business Development Manager, Application Bottle and Clemens Kitzberger, Business Development Manager, Application Post Consumer of EREMA provide insights on current technologies for managing post-consumer recycling.
They note that plastics are among the materials most widely used for food contact applications. While there’s pressure to use recycled plastics (particularly post-consumer recyclate) in the packaging in order to reduce plastic waste, it’s important that the plastics being used are considered safe for contact with products meant to be consumed.
In Europe, the governing body for safely evaluating recycling plastics is the European Food and Safety Authority, and in the US it’s the FDA.
In their evaluation processes, the evaluation process depends upon the polymer that’s to be in contact with food, the polymer under consideration, and the storage and usage parameters such as time and temperature.
They note that Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is an inert polymer and that PET bottle-to-bottle recycling has been successfully utilized for over 20 years. On the other hand, HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is more permeable and less dense, so requires stricter and comprehensive processes by both EFSA and the FDA.
EREMA has received an FDA Letter of No Objection in the fall of 2019 from the FDA for the use of up to 100% post-consumer recyclate (PCR-HDPE) using the patented Interema TVEplus RegrindPro extrusion system when combined with the ReFresher module.
You can see the system in action here:
With this system, the post-consumer plastic packaging is ensured to not transfer unsafe materials from the packaging in quantities that could engineer consumer health.
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