On September 6, 2019, a presentation outlining discussions held at a “meeting with FCM European Professional Associations” was published on the European Commission’s (EC) FCM Document Library page.

In the presentation, the EC announced that an amendment to Regulation (EC) 282/208 on recycling plastics is “under preparation.” The next steps include consultations with EU Member States, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and industry, as well as a consultation with internal EC services. Without this amendment, “some plastic would be become illegal overnight” when the long-awaited authorization for recycling processes is granted, the EC explained. For example, an extensive “clarification of obligations” still needs to take place. Given the remaining tasks, the EC now plans to adopt individual Authorization Decisions by the third quarter of 2020.

Non-polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials also require additional consideration. In particular, the EC noted that, “because of efficient PET evaluations,” some “time pressure” exists to evaluate these materials, which is further complicated by the “need to avoid inconclusive opinions.” The EC highlighted that there might be “other criteria” or even a new procedure established to evaluate non-PET materials, and this proposal may be subject to a public consultation after initial discussion with EFSA and industry.

Further, the EC emphasized that “chemical recycling [is] presently out of scope,” however, this approach “likely needs including in scope to avoid transition issues.” One challenge in this regard is the existence of a “gray zone” created by the fast pace of innovations coupled with an “absence of definition,” as “several kinds of processes [are being developed] that could be [called] ‘chemical recycling.’”

The EC has also planned for an amendment to Article 8 of Regulation (EU) No 10/2011, that should state that “substances originating from plastic recycling shall be manufactured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 282/2008.”

The EC also discussed the “glymo” question, referring to the food contact material (FCM) substance [3-(2,3-epoxypropoxy)propyl]trimethoxy silane (CAS 2530-83-8), known to be “potentially genotoxic” and insufficiently regulated at present. The EC confirmed the need for a specific measure on this substance. A technical draft is currently being prepared that establishes “special conditions of use” that would be “applicable to the manufacture of food contact coatings, adhesives, printing inks, silicones, paper and board, rubber, combinations thereof and combinations with plastics and/or inorganic substances.” The measure will “potentially also [include] a mechanism to remain on the market,” relying on “a clear and well justified argument that the use is safe.”

Lastly, the EC gave an update on phthalates. In spring 2019, EFSA held a public consultation on its draft re-assessment of several phthalates in FCMs (FPF reported). Currently, a dedicated working group at EFSA is “concluding on the updated risk assessment work,” with two main outputs planned, including a “technical report on the consultation” and an “updated scientific opinion” (FPF reported). The opinion “is scheduled to be adopted at the September CEP Plenary session,” and the EC “will base its risk management of phthalates in FCMs on EFSA opinion” once it is published. The EC also informed that it “will shortly invite stakeholders to take part in a questionnaire as regards the use of phthalates in FCMs.”

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EC (September 6, 2019). “Meeting with FCM European Professional Associations.(pdf)