Recyclate cannot always be deployed in packaging for the food industry. Why not? We'll explain this to you in this blog.

Robin Koning

Robin Koning

10 juni 2021

Due to its functional properties, plastic is widely used as a packaging material within the food industry. However, recycled plastics can hardly be deployed for this market when it's in direct contact with the content of the packaging. Recycled waste consists out of a mix of plastics whose origin cannot be guaranteed or traced. Packaging used in the food industry cannot contain potentially hazardous substances. That's why there are guidelines for approved materials. These guidelines are included in the legislative requirements with regard to food safety.

In terms of origin, 95% of the recyclate must come form food packaging.

Only PCR-PET has a food approval due to the high amount of mono-collection by deposits. This is calles a closed system.

In order to achieve an approved stream of recycled material for the food industry, we need both mechanical and chemical recycling. Currently there is being a lot invested in the development of chemical recycling. The advantage here is that the plastic is broken down into naphtha and can serve as a base for forming monomers. Then it's rebuilt into polymer, which ensures a pure granulate. This development is already being applied on a smaller scale and has a positive impact on creating material with a food approval. 

For mechanical recycling is currently being worked on the pioneering project HolyGrail 2.0 to achieve a high-quality and accurate sorting of recycled waste. A collaboration between more than 130 companies form the European Brands Association (AIM) and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. This sorting is done with the help of digital watermarks. With these watermarks waste can be selected on food and non-food. In addition, it provides the correct identification of complex detectable packaging and, like PCR-PET, can serve as a closed system. Within the packaging industry, many brands are active to accelerate the transistion to a circular economy.

In order to achieve sustainable packaging, the are of course countless possibilities. As we speak there are developments going on to make recycled plastics with foodapproval possible!