On July 14, 2017, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF Panel) published three scientific opinions on the post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling processes: ‘Veroniki Ecogrup SRL,’ based on the Starlinger Decon technology, ‘Märkische Faser,’ based on the Next Generation Group (NGR) technology, and ‘PEGRA-V,’ based on the Starlinger IV+® technology. All processes use hot washed and dried PET flakes from post-consumer PET containers, containing no more than 5% PET from non-food applications.
In the ‘Veroniki Ecogrup SRL’ process, PET flakes are preheated and then submitted to solid-state polycondensation in a continuous reactor at high temperature under vacuum and gas flow. In the ‘Märkische Faser’ process, PET flakes are melted and degassed in an extruder under vacuum, and then decontaminated during a melt-state polycondensation under high temperature and vacuum. Subsequently, the melted material is homogenized, extruded under vacuum, and pelletized. In the ‘PEGRA-V’ process, PET flakes are dried and crystallized in a reactor, extruded into pellets, and then crystallized in a second reactor. The crystallized pellets are preheated in a third reactor before being submitted to a solid-state polycondensation reactor.
The challenge tests demonstrated that all three recycling processes can ensure to limit migration of potential unknown contaminants into food to 0.1 µg/kg food. Therefore, the CEF Panel concluded that recycled PET (rPET) obtained from these processes is safe for the manufacture of food contact articles with up to 100% rPET content. The rPET articles are intended for all types of foodstuffs for long-term storage at room temperature, and in the case of the ‘Veroniki Ecogrup SRL’ and ‘PEGRA-V’ processes, articles can be used with or without hotfill. However, trays made of rPET from all three processes should not be used in microwave and conventional ovens, the CEF Panel noted.
CEF (July 14, 2017). “Safety assessment of the process ‘Veroniki Ecogrup SRL’, based on Starlinger Decon technology, used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials.” EFSA Journal 15(7):4900.
CEF (July 14, 2017). “Safety assessment of the process ‘Märkische Faser’, based on NGR technology, used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials.” EFSA Journal 15(7):4898.
CEF (July 14, 2017). “Safety assessment of the process ‘PEGRA-V’, based on Starlinger IV+® technology, used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials.” EFSA Journal 15(7):4899.