On 10 October 2022, the new Commission Regulation (EU) 2022/1616 on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foods, came into effect.

In addition to updating and simplifying existing regulations, the new Regulation includes innovative novel plastic recycling technologies under development.

The main novelties that this new Regulation introduces are:

  1. New requirements for the development of a novel technology;
  2. Provisions for monitoring and reporting contamination levels, assessing new technologies and deciding whether to adopt them; and
  3. Provisions regarding market placement of novel technologies.

Regarding the development of a novel technology, the competent authority in the territory where the developer is based, as well as the Commission, needs be notified. The novel technology must be also registered in the newly created Union register of technologies, recyclers, recycling processes, recycling schemes, and decontamination installations. The register will contain in depth information about the novel technology and the properties of the recycling technologies, the developer, the installations, etc. Lastly, a detailed report – excluding aspects of commercial relevance, if justifiable – will need to be published by the developer.

As regards the provisions for monitoring and reporting contamination levels, assessing new technologies, and deciding whether to adopt them, the developer must publish an online report every 6 months, based on the latest information from all installations using the novel technology. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will, from now on, provide an opinion on whether novel recycling technologies are suitable to be used as a basis for recycling processes, based on the kind of plastic input they are intended for.

The new Regulation allows the placement on the market of recycled plastic materials and articles created using novel technologies under strict conditions and for a limited time to encourage the development of these novel technologies. Developers will be, therefore, able to collect data on a lot of samples, reducing uncertainty about the characterisation of the plastic input and recycled plastic materials.

Recycled plastic used in Food Contact Materials must still comply with the same rules on composition as newly manufactured plastic FCMs as laid Regulation (EU) No 10/2011. With the entry into force of this new Regulation, Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 is repealed.

Also, as part of the ongoing revision of the EU Rules on Food Contact Materials, the European Commission launched a public consultation on 5 October 2022 open to citizens and stakeholders. The adoption of the new rules is expected in the second quarter of 2023.

For more information on the new regulation and its application check the dedicated website of the European Commission:  https://food.ec.europa.eu/safety/chemical-safety/food-contact-materials/plastic-recycling_en#questions-and-answers

Author: EUBP/Estela López-Hermoso