The European Commission's new regulation on recycled plastics (EC No 282/2008) declares that only materials obtained from recycling processes assessed for safety by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) can be used as materials and articles for contact with food.
The regulation aims to limit potential contamination with chemicals migrating from packaging to food, as well as to make it easier for processors to trade under the same requirements across the EU.
EFSA has clarified that its guidelines deal only with mechanical recycling processes and not the chemical depolymerisation method, as that is already subject to the rules laid down in EU Directive 2002/72/EC. They also do not deal with a manufacturer's re-use of virgin in-house plastic production scrap. Also falling outside the scope of the guidelines are recycled plastics used behind a plastic functional barrier as provided for in Commission Directive 2002/72/EC.
In evaluating the recycling process, EFSA will scrutinise the quality of the input materials, the efficacy of the process to decontaminate the plastics and the intended use of the recycled plastic. Upon evaluating a recycling process, it will forward its opinion to the European Commission and upon authorisation, a recycling process will then be added to a register of sanctioned recycling methods. The authorised recycling methods will then be managed by a quality assurance system (QAS) that guarantees the reproducible quality of the recycled plastic, according to EFSA. However, it stated that the QAS will be carried out by member states and not by EFSA