On May 14, 2018, a review article on food packaging in the circular economy was published with open access in the scientific peer-reviewed Journal of Cleaner Production. Scientists from the Food Packaging Forum (FPF), Zurich, Switzerland, describe recycling processes of five types of commonly used food packaging (plastics, paper and board, metals, glass, multilayer multi-materials). The authors summarize how recycling can impact the chemical safety of each packaging type and give examples of typical contaminants. To achieve safe recycled food packaging, especially non-permanent materials (e.g., plastics, paper and board) require measures that remove chemical contaminants during recycling or separate the recycled materials from the food (e.g., by functional barriers).
Recycling, but importantly also reuse, reduction, and redesign support the aims of the circular economy and can decrease the environmental impact of food packaging. However, the chemical safety of recycled food packaging is a sensitive issue and should be considered by all stakeholders, the authors conclude.
Geueke, B. et al. (2018). “Food packaging in the circular economy: Overview of chemical safety aspects for commonly used materials.” Journal of Cleaner Production 193:491-505.