On December 3-5, 2019, Smithers Pira held its annual conference on “Plastics & Paper in Contact with Foodstuffs” with more than 200 participants in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The diverse program included presentations by speakers from various industries, consultancies, government agencies, legislators, and non-governmental organizations.

In his keynote lecture, Bastiaan Schupp, legislative officer at the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), gave a presentation highlighting the ongoing activities on food contact materials (FCMs) at the European Commission (EC). The food contact materials (FCM) legislation is currently being evaluated for the first time after the implementation of Directive 76/893/EEC forty-three years ago (FPF reported). Issues under review, as identified by different stakeholders, include the lack of specific rules for certain food contact materials, the lack of focus on all substances that may migrate from FCMs, the ability to demonstrate compliance, and enforcement as well as the coherence with other relevant legislation (e.g. REACH). After detailing the stakeholder consultation process (FPF reported), Schupp informed that a staff working document is currently being prepared based on the compiled information. This document aims to communicate the evaluation results and conclusions, including a description of the current situation, options for intervention, methodological questions, and underlying assumptions and limitations. How the FCM legislation could change in the future will only be decided after the evaluation process has been finalized, Schupp concluded.

The latest amendments to Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic FCMs were also summarized in the same presentation. The 15th amendment is currently under preparation (FPF reported) and expected to come into force in the summer of 2020. A planned 16th amendment may consider EFSA’s opinions on phthalates (FPF reported) and wood flour and fibers as filler in plastic materials (FPF reported), address the structure of the Document of Compliance, lower detection limits for substances that should not be detected at all, address reprocessing of plastics, and include two new substances on the positive list.

Schupp also presented news on Commission Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 on recycled plastic FCMs. An amendment to this regulation is planned for 2020, which will focus on materials other than PET, different kinds of recycling processes, as well as operational, administrative, and enforcement obligations. Authorization of notified and registered recycling processes is planned for the third quarter of 2020 (FPF reported). In 2021, a further amendment to (EC) No 282/2008 may include all types of recycled plastic as well as chemical recycling processes. In the more distant future, it might be conceivable to adapt this regulation for non-plastic FCMs as well, Schupp anticipated.

Further topics that were covered in Schupp’s presentation included: the assessment of heavy metals from ceramic and vitreous FCMs (FPF reported), the need for special conditions of use for Glymo ([3-(2,3-epoxypropoxy)propyl]trimethoxy silane (CAS 2530-83-8) (FPF reported), the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons (FPF reported), Commission Recommendation (EU) 2019/794 on a coordinated control plan (FPF reported), and ongoing EFSA mandates.

Rachida Semail, partner at law firm Keller and Heckman LLP, presented on the ‘single use plastic directive’ (SUPD, Directive (EU) 2019/904). According to the SUPD, at least 55% of plastic packaging should be recycled by 2025, and all plastic packaging would have to be reusable or easily recyclable, Semail stated. Deadlines for the implementation of certain SUPD provisions lie between July 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024. However, definitions, standards, and quantification measures are needed to fulfill the targets defined in the SUPD. Therefore, the EC has commissioned a study led by Ramboll Environment & Health GmbH to support the implementation of the directive, e.g., by explaining to operators how to identify and describe the products within the scope of the directive, how to label single use products, and how to calculate and verify collection targets for plastic beverage bottles.

Jeffrey A. Keithline, partner at Keller and Heckman LLP, gave an overview of the Japanese legislation on FCMs. In January 2018, Japanese authorities notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of their intent to implement positive lists of substances to be allowed in plastic FCMs. In August 2019, a searchable draft positive list was then submitted to the WTO (FPF reported). This new rule includes a human health threshold of 0.01 ppm for chemicals unlikely to harm human health. The final adoption of the positive list is to be expected in early 2020, and it may become effective in mid-2020.

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Smithers Pira (December 3-5, 2019). Plastics & Paper in Contact with Foodstuffs.”