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Interview with Dario Dainelli-Policy & Regulatory Affairs

Ahead of this year's Food Contact Asia 2024, we spoke with Dr Dario Dainelli, Owner & Managing Director at Dario Dainelli-Policy & Regulatory Affairs, to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from his presentation on 'Recycled plastics in food contact applications'. Here's what he had to say...

Q1. Hi Dr. Dario Dainelli, it’s great to have you joining us this year! Can you tell us more about your upcoming presentation at Food Contact Asia 2024?

My presentation will focus on plastics recyclability. Circularity of plastics is one of the most important pillars of a sustainable development, and harmonization of the rules for determining safety of recycled plastics is vital to allow trade though different jurisdictions. It is important that business operators outside the EU will understand the EU regulations, in order to be able to export e.g. semifinished and finished products made of recycled plastics.

Q2. What are some of the biggest opportunities gaining attention within the food contact materials and/or packaging industry?

We see an increased need to combine safety requirements and requirements related to packaging sustainability. This implies new design concepts to foster recyclability, but also ability to reuse packaging, improve durability, introduce compostable packaging and in general develop innovative materials and processes. There are  great opportunities in each of these areas, where we are very active in supporting our clients

Q3. As consumers/end users continually push for more sustainable/greener/safer solutions, what do you think is the biggest concern/challenge regarding food contact materials/packaging?

As I said, innovation in materials and processes is key, however there are concerns in various areas: certainly littering is still unacceptably high, causing environmental and safety concerns (e.g. through the formation of microplastics). It is vital to push hard to decrease and finally eliminate littering, recycle and reuse in order to safe resources. We have to work hard towards more developed recovery systems for all packaging materials, not only plastics. Another source of concern is energy and resources consumption: packaging manufacturing requires energy and certainly consumes resources. It is important in LCA studies to better understand the optimum solutions for the intended use. For example in food packaging, the balance between energy and resource consumption and avoidance of food  waste stems from a careful balance which may not be easy to achieve. We need to avoid shortcut solution and adopt the packaging solutions that result from a deep understanding of the subject

Q4. What do you think will be some of the most interesting advancements or breakthroughs in food contact materials in the near future?

Packaging will become more and more structurally simple, in order to allow recycling and reuse. I believe that development in new materials will be one of the breakthroughs in the next 3-5 years, however new technologies for recycling plastics like polystyrene and polyolefin for food contact applications will certainly have an input from the new trend

Q5. Why should people attend Food Contact Asia 2024?

It is obvious that Asia is the fastest development Region globally. As many technologies become more and more mature we see the development of policies and regulations that would allow a more modern and structural approach to the technologies, and provide strong input for placing Asian companies in the global economy scenario