Plastic packaging accounts for 40% of all plastic consumption in Europe. Of this fraction food and beverage is again about 40% or 8 million tonnes. The use of recycled plastic in food packaging is limited by legislative food safety requirements, the plastics packaging recycling quality requirements and sorting and collection infrastructure. It is only possible to use EFSA certified closed loop systems for recycled food contact packaging today.
PET bottles is the only approved closed loop for plastic that fulfil these safety regulations in Norway and EU today. However, polyolefins are the dominating polymers for food packaging beside PET but with no existing closed loop systems with food approval these are currently existing in Norway. With Norwegian target of 50% recycled plastics by 2025, and 60% by 2030, it is an urgent need to solve the challenges within usage of recycled polyolefins in food contact packaging.
Furthermore, since mechanical recycling has the lowest CO2 footprint, compared to chemical recycling, it is highly important to evaluate how such materials can be used for food contact materials. According to the EU regulation EC 282/2008 the controlled closed loop recycling of food packaging back to food packaging is one option for this. A second option is to use recycled plastics in a sandwich structure behind a functional barrier which limit any migrating substances to a level below the limits of the food contact directive EU 10/2011.
Target and challenges
- The RECY-FOOD-PACK project will develop a comprehensive knowledge platform for sustainable and safe food packaging materials based on Norwegian post-consumer plastic waste streams to demonstrate suitability of recycled plastics for food contact packaging.
- Knowledge building and demonstrations related to selected type of food packaging systems having high potential and high contribution to the current recycling rates for adopting new closed loop systems.
- How do these food packaging systems need to be designed, collected and sorted to increase their recycling rates, and at the same time fulfil the required safety regulations?
- Develop and demonstrate virgin plastic as functional barriers, that can secure recycled plastics waste to be utilized in food contact packaging even if the recycled plastic is not collected as closed loop systems.
Implementation and use
The project results will give recommendations on requirements to increase the recycling rates of plastics waste in Norway and internationally. Specifically related to utilization of Norwegian plastic waste streams for food contact packaging.