Food and Drink Federation joins action on recyclable material in plastic packaging

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has joined an initiative with The British Plastics Federation (BPF) and the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) to announce the launch of new guidelines, Recycled Content Used In Plastic Packaging Applications.

Prepared through a close collaboration between three organisations, the document provides answers to questions about measuring recycled content and highlights important regulatory and technical considerations. The guidance is aimed at companies wishing to include recycled content in food, drink, cosmetics and pharmaceutical packaging; it is also designed to help policymakers better understand the sector-specific issues.

Under current regulations and technical constraints, it is not possible at this time to incorporate recycled materials in many types of plastic packaging used by these sectors, including within confectionery and bakery segments, owing to the rigorous safety requirements currently in place to protect human health. This industry-led collaboration is intended to provide guidance on the regulatory requirements, and key technical considerations.

The document presents detailed guidance in the form of simple Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), answering questions like “what is a functional barrier?” or “what is a challenge test?”. It also highlights important factors to consider when incorporating recycled content into plastic packaging, such as the potential to generate extra waste or to render products unrecyclable by conventional means.

The BPF’s plastics and flexible packaging group director, Barry Turner, stated: “The inclusion of recycled materials in packaging can have environmental benefits of resource efficiency and carbon savings. Therefore, we are extremely happy to be working alongside the FDF and CTPA to help ensure recycled content is maximized where it delivers the most benefit to the environment, and to help bring us closer to the circular economy.”

Helen Munday, FDF’s chief scientific officer, added: “FDF members are increasingly looking at ways to incorporate recycled content into their packaging in keeping with efforts to build a truly circular economy for food and drink packaging in the UK. These guidelines will help both businesses and policy makers better understand the regulatory and technical considerations that apply including those factors that currently limit recycled content when it comes to plastics for food contact applications.”

Tim Chandler, senior scientific officer at the Food Standards Agency, said that it welcomes industry initiatives to produce voluntary guidelines for manufacturers and suppliers of food contact materials; including for the incorporation of recycled plastic content in plastic food packaging. He believed that such measures assist industry to achieve consistency and a high standard of finished product, ensuring the safety of materials for food contact applications.

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