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Efsa clears Erema method for recycled PET food trays

The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) has formally approved the use of a new method for recycling food-grade PET to reuse in a second generation of food contact materials.

Such approvals must be secured in the EU, according to Regulation 282/2008 recycled plastic materials for food contact use.The Erema Advanced process has been developed by Austrian firm Erema. It uses high temperatures and vacuum conditions to prepare recycled PET (rPET) flakes prior to extrusion.

The applications were made by three converters that have invested in the technology to meet growing demand for sustainable, safe packaging. The companies are Germany-based Polyrecycling; Italy’s Alimphet; and Greentech of France – though its application was made via its Romanian subsidiary.

All three firms are interested in using Erema Advanced to produce rPET food trays and beverage bottles. In an opinion promulgated on 17 February, Efsa raises no objection to its use in the ‘manufacture of thermoformed trays and containers for contact with all types of foodstuffs except packaged water.’ The application did not cover thermoformed trays intended for conventional or microwave cooking, so these uses are not approved.

The Efsa’s panel Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) also considered an application for a different process that uses post-consumer high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drinks bottles. The request was filed by Biffa Polymers and Closed Loop Recycling via the UK’s Food Standards Agency.

The expert opinion cleared the recycled HDPE for use in trays for whole fruits and vegetables, at room temperature and below. Efsa demanded more data to be able to rule on suitability for use in trays for animal products, and in milk and fruit juice containers.

This article comes from Food Contact World, which provides exclusive news and analysis on developments in digital print trends, markets, and technologies.