Scientific Opinion on the safety assessment of the process “Phoenix - ESPS”, used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials

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Article
Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2014;12(5):3647 [15 pp.].
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3647
Panel members at the time of adoption
Ulla Beckman Sundh, Mona-Lise Binderup, Claudia Bolognesi, Leon Brimer, Laurence Castle, Alessandro Di Domenico, Karl-Heinz Engel, Roland Franz, Nathalie Gontard, Rainer Gürtler, Trine Husøy, Klaus-Dieter Jany, Martine Kolf-Clauw, Catherine Leclercq (until July 2013), Jean-Claude Lhuguenot (until November 2012), Wim Mennes, Maria Rosaria Milana, Maria de Fátima Poças, Iona Pratt †, Kettil Svensson, Fidel Toldrá and Detlef Wölfle.
Acknowledgements

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Recycling processes: Laurence Castle, Vincent Dudler, Nathalie Gontard, Eugenia Lampi, Maria Rosaria Milana, Cristina Nerin, and Constantine Papaspyrides for the preparatory work on this scientific opinion.

Possible conflict of interest
One member of the Panel did not participate in the discussion because of potential conflicts of interest identified in accordance with the EFSA policy on declarations of interests.
Contact
Type
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel
On request from
Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit, Germany
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2010-00063
Adopted
9 April 2014
Published
6 May 2014
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
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Abstract

This scientific opinion of the EFSA Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes,
Flavourings and Processing Aids deals with the safety assessment of the recycling process Phoenix – ESPS process (EU register No RECYC035). The input to the process is hot caustic washed and dried poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) flakes originating from collected post-consumer PET containers, mainly bottles and containing no more than 5 % of PET from non-food consumer applications. In this process, washed and dried flakes are ground into small particle size powder, this powder is then fed into a reactor at high temperature under inert gas flow for decontamination. Having examined the results of the challenge test provided, the Panel concluded that the two steps, the pulverisation and the decontamination are the critical steps that determine the decontamination efficiency of the process. The operating parameters to control the performance of these critical steps are particle size for the pulverisation (step 2), temperature, dry air flow and residence time for the decontamination (step 3) and these are well defined. The operating parameters of these steps in the process are at least as severe as those used in the challenge test. Under these conditions, it was demonstrated that the recycling process is able to ensure that the level of migration of potential unknown contaminants into food is below a conservatively modelled migration of 0.1 μg/kg food. Therefore the Panel concluded that the recycled PET obtained from this process intended to be used 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.

Summary

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 onthe 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.

  1. 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,
  2. 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.

Keywords
food contact materials, plastic, poly(ethylene terephthalate) PET, recycling, process, Phoenix ESPS technology, safety assessment
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Number of Pages
15