Safe and circular: Making food contact material work for consumers and the environment

Packaging is essential to preserve the safety and quality of food for consumers all across Europe. Food Contact Materials (FCMs) help maintain food and drinks’ standards and safeguard public health.

But packaging is also an essential component of the Circular Economy, with materials having to meet specific recycling targets. More and more effort is therefore being put at European level to use recycled material for new packaging. For example, the EU Plastics Strategy highlights the need to boost demand for recycled plastics, including in food-contact applications. This could however have an impact on the quality and safety of FCMs, since the traceability of certain waste streams is fragmented.

Several directives at EU level have an impact on FCMs and their environmental footprint, from deposit schemes to the eco-modulation of fees. But how can a balance be struck between the protection of the environment and consumers? Is there necessarily a trade-off between the two objectives?

EURACTIV organised this workshop to discuss the future of FCMs and how to ensure high standards for consumers and the environment. Questions included:
– Should the Food Contact Material legislation be revised?
– Should factors such as the “quality” and “duration” of FCMs and food products be considered when regulating FCMs?
– Are the proper risk assessment methods in place to ensure that increasing the recycled content of packaging will also guarantee safety and quality?
– How can waste collection and recycling systems be improved to ensure more traceability for FCMs? What role for traceability and labelling?
– What role for innovation in finding new environmentally friendly solutions that can also protect consumers?


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