Scientific Opinion on the safety assessment of the process ‘General Plastic’ 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 2015;13(11):4284 [13 pp.].
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4284
Panel members at the time of adoption
Claudia Bolognesi, Laurence Castle, Jean-Pierre Cravedi, Karl-Heinz Engel, Paul Fowler, Roland Franz, Konrad Grob, Rainer Gürtler, Trine Husøy, Sirpa Kärenlampi, Wim Mennes, Maria Rosaria Milana, André Penninks, Vittorio Silano, Andrew Smith, Maria de Fátima Tavares Poças, Christina Tlustos, Detlef Wölfle, Holger Zorn and Corina-Aurelia Zugravu.
Acknowledgements

The Panel wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on Recycling Plastics, Laurence Castle, Vincent Dudler, Nathalie Gontard, Eugenia Lampi, Maria Rosaria Milana, Cristina Nerin, Constantine Papaspyrides and Maria de Fátima Tavares Poças and EFSA staff member Cristina Croera for the preparatory work on this scientific output.

Possible conflict of interest
One member of the Panel did not participate in the discussion on the subject referred to above 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
Public health authority of Slovak Republic
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2013-00754
Adopted
28 October 2015
Published
18 November 2015
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
Download Article (389.93 KB)
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 General Plastic (EU register number RECYC107). According to the applicant, the input to the process is hot caustic washed poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) flakes originating from separate collected post-consumer PET bottles, containing no more than 5% of PET from non-food consumer applications. In this process, washed post-consumer PET flakes are dried before being extruded into pellets. The pellets are crystallised and then undergo solid-state polycondensation. Having examined the challenge test and the information provided, the Panel concluded that the process ‘General Plastic’ is not adequately characterised and the applicant has not demonstrated that the recycling process ‘General Plastic’ is able to reduce any contamination of the plastic input to a concentration that does not pose a risk to human health.

Summary

According to Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 of 27 March 2008 on recycled plastic materials intended to come into contact with foods and amending Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006, EFSA is requested to evaluate recycling processes of plastic waste.

In this context, the public health authority of the Slovak Republic requested the evaluation of the recycling process ‘General Plastic’ submitted by General Plastic, a.s.. The recycling process has been allocated the European Union register number RECYC107. It is deemed to recycle poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) from PET bottles collected through separated post-consumer waste collection systems. The recycled PET is intended to be used at up to 100% for the manufacture of food contact materials and articles. The recycled material 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 hotfill. Trays made of this recycled PET are not intended to be used either in microwave or in conventional oven.

According to the applicant, the process comprises the following steps. First, the post-consumer collected PET bottles are processed into washed flakes. Afterwards, PET flakes are dried (step 1), and then extruded into pellets and crystallised under vacuum (step 2). Step 3 involves a solid-state polycondensation (SSP) process under vacuum at high temperature and for a defined residence time to obtain pellets.

Specifications for the input materials are provided for the submitted recycling process. The fraction of non-food containers is reported to be below 5%.

To measure the decontamination efficiency, a challenge test was conducted with surrogate contaminants at plant scale on process steps 1 to 3 in batch production. According to the applicant, the decontamination efficiencies obtained for each surrogate contaminant from the challenge test ranged from 93.5% to 99.9%.

The Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) considered that the process and the challenge test are not well described and that there are inconsistencies and discrepancies in the information provided. The dossier does not satisfy the requirements of the EFSA guidelines, because the data provided by the applicant do not allow a proper description of the process, do not prove the representativeness of the challenge test, and do not allow identification of the critical parameters and evaluation of the cleaning efficiency of the process.

The Panel concluded that the process ‘General Plastic’ is not adequately characterised. On the basis of the information submitted to EFSA, the applicant has not demonstrated in a challenge test, or by other appropriate scientific evidence, that the recycling process ‘General Plastic’ is able to reduce any contamination of the plastic input to a concentration that does not pose a risk to human health.

Keywords
General Plastic, food contact materials, plastic, poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), recycling process, safety assessment
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Number of Pages
13