According to the Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 of 27 March 2008 on recycled plastic materials intended to come into contact with foods, EFSA is requested to evaluate recycling processes in which plastic waste is recycled. In this context, the CEF Panel evaluated the following process “Phoenix – ESPS technology”.
The Bundesamt fur Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, Germany, requested the evaluation of the recycling process “Phoenix – ESPS” submitted on behalf of Phoenix Technologies Intl LLC, USA. The recycling process has been allocated the EU register No RECYC035. It is deemed to recycle poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) powder from PET containers collected through post-consumer collection systems. The recycled powder is intended to be used up to 100 % for the manufacture of food contact materials and articles. These recycled materials and articles are intended to be used in direct contact with all kind of foodstuffs for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hot-fill.
The process is composed of three steps. First post-consumer PET containers are processed into washed and dried flakes (step 1) which are used as input of the Phoenix – ESPS process. In the step 2, dried flakes are pulverised into powder which is then decontaminated in step 3.
Detailed specifications for the input materials are provided and the amount of non-food use containers is reported to be below 5 %.
To measure the decontamination efficiency, a challenge test was conducted at pilot scale at reduced capacity on the steps 2 (pulverization) and 3 (decontamination reactor) of the process. Steps 2 and 3 were considered by the Panel as the critical steps for the removal of possible contaminants and should be kept under control to guarantee the performance of the decontamination of this process. The operating parameters to control its performance are the particle size (step 2), the temperature, the gas flow and the residence time (step 3).
The decontamination efficiencies obtained for each surrogate contaminant from the challenge test, ranging from 92.2 to above 99.9 %, have been used to calculate the residual concentrations of potential unknown contaminants in powder (Cres) according to the evaluation procedure described in the Scientific Opinion on “the criteria to be used for safety evaluation of a mechanical recycling process to produce recycled PET intended to be used for manufacture of materials and articles in contact with food” (EFSA CEF Panel, 2011). According to these criteria, the recycling process under evaluation is able to reduce the level of unknown contaminants in recycled PET, represented by the surrogate contaminants, below a calculated concentration (Cmod) corresponding to a modelled migration of 0.1 μg/kg food.
- it is operated under conditions that are at least as severe as those obtained from the challenge test used to measure the decontamination efficiency of the process and,
- the input is washed and dried post-consumer PET flakes originating from materials and articles that have been manufactured in accordance with the Community legislation on food contact materials containing no more than 5 % of PET from non-food consumer applications.
The Panel concluded that the recycled PET obtained from the process Phoenix ESPS intended to be used at up to 100 % for the manufacture of materials and articles for contact with all types of foodstuffs for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hot-fill is not considered of safety concern.
The Panel recommended thatit should be verified periodically, as part of the good manufacturing practice (GMP), that as foreseen in the Regulation (EC) No 282/2008, art. 4b, the input originates from materials and articles that have been manufactured in accordance with the Community legislation on food contact materials and that the proportion of PET from non-food consumer applications is no more than 5 % in the input to be recycled. Critical steps should be monitored and kept under control; supporting documentation on how it is ensured that the critical steps are operated under conditions at least as severe as those obtained from the challenge test used to measure the decontamination efficiency of the processes should be available.