EU debating proposed regulation to govern recycled plastics used in food packaging

Talks are underway on working documents from European Commission, that will form the basis of harmonised EU rules governing plastic materials and articles in contact with food, making it easier for processors to trade under the same requirements across the EU. The Commission's draft deals with mechanical processes for recycling plastic food packaging for further use by processors. Under this draft proposal, a system will be devised to allow a person or company to apply for an authorisation to use a specified process to recycle food contact plastics for further use in contact with food. The authorized processes will be managed by a quality assurance system that guarantees the reproducible quality of the recycled plastic. The proposals do not deal with recycling that chemical depolymerisation processes, as the method 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. Recycled plastics used behind a plastic functional barrier are also not covered as they are provided for in Commission Directive 2002/72/EC. The proposals would also lay down the dates by which the list of additives in food contact plastics will be closed. It would also set out interim arrangements for additives that have been petitioned for authorisation. The Commission has set a provisional date of 31 December 2009 as the last date by which additives not in the positive list may be used, the FSA reported. The Commission has also proposed a provisional date of 1 January 2010 for the positive list to take effect, allowing the European Food Safety Agency time to obtain any additional information it might need for its risk assessment of those additives on the provisional list. The date will also allow time for the EU to adopt any resulting directives and for the publication and transposition by member states in their laws. Upon adoption, the text of the draft regulation would be published in the early part of 2008, and will become law soon after.
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