On August 9, 2019, Japanese authorities notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of their intent to implement a new set of positive lists regulating base polymers and minor monomers to be allowed for use in plastic food contact materials (FCMs). Law firm Keller and Heckman reviewed and reported on the structure of the lists, as well as provided an overview of Japan’s national food contact regulations. The notification specifies that the lists will apply to “utensils, containers, and packaging made of synthetic resins.” Three separate positive lists have been proposed for: i) base polymers for plastics, ii) base polymers for coatings, and iii) minor monomers used in base polymers. The list covering base polymers for plastics contains 67 different categories of polymers. Substances currently on the lists have been published with partial English translations and CAS numbers on the ministry’s website. The submitted WTO notification is currently open for comment until October 8, 2019, which allows for stakeholders to request new substances to be added to the lists before the system is set to enter into force in June 2020. After this date, any substances not on the positive lists will require a formal petition to the Japanese government for use.

Japan published documents detailing a potential positive list system in December 2018 (FPF reported), which followed an earlier guideline published in July 2017 (FPF reported). In February 2018, a set of evaluation procedures were proposed for food contact substances in the country that are not on the positive lists (FPF reported).

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WTO (August 9, 2019). “Japanese Notification.”

Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (August 2019). “The draft of the Positive List.”

Mark Thompson (August 14, 2019). “Expert Focus: As Japan notifies the WTO, the sun rises on a new Positive List for plastic food packaging.” Chemical Watch

Ellen Daliday (August 20, 2019). “Japan publishes draft positive list of synthetic resins in FCMs.” Chemical Watch

Keller and Heckman LLP (August 20, 2019). “Asia Regulatory Matters: Japan Notifies WTO of its New Positive List for Plastic Food-Contact Materials.”