On April 19, 2018, the European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion evaluating safety of the process “BTB PET direct IV+” used to recycle post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for food contact.
This process uses PET flakes “originating from collected post-consumer food contact PET containing no more than 5% of PET from non-food consumer applications.” PET flakes are washed with hot caustic soda, dried, and extruded into pellets. Pellets are then crystallized, preheated, and fed to the solid-state polycondensation (SSP) reactor.
Decontamination efficiency of the process is determined by extrusion, crystallization, and SSP steps, whose performance is in turn dependent on temperature, pressure, and residence time. Under optimal conditions, “the recycling process is able to ensure that the level of migration of potential unknown contaminants into food is below the conservatively modelled migration of 0.1 µg/kg food,” CEF concluded.
Therefore, “the recycled PET obtained from this process, intended to be used up to 100% for the manufacture of materials and articles for contact with all types of foodstuffs for long-term storage at room temperature, with or without hotfill, is not considered of safety concern.” However, “trays made of this recycled PET are not intended to be used, and should not be used, in microwave and conventional ovens.”
EFSA CEF Panel (April 19, 2018). “Safety assessment of the process ‘BTB PET Direct IV+’, used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials.” EFSA Journal 16:e05227.