More than 200 experts from various industries, consultancies, government agencies, legislators and non-governmental organizations met at Smithers Pira’s annual conference on “Plastics & Paper in Contact with Foodstuffs” which took place on December 3-5, 2019, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Robert Broughton, product safety manager at Amcor Flexibles, explained the challenges in recycling flexible packaging laminates under the current existing regulatory framework. In his opinion, a packaging can only be considered recyclable if it has the right attributes for successful collection, sorting, and recycling in the real world and at scale. Therefore, better collection systems are needed for light-weight materials, and sorting needs to be made as simple as possible. Since recycled laminated plastic is not allowed to be used as food contact materials, there may not be enough demand for this material, Broughton suggested, but chemical recycling may be a way out of this situation.

Dennis Bankmann from packaging and consumer goods company Henkel showed how the recycling of multi-materials can be improved. The use of compatible laminating adhesives for PE/PP pouches, for example, enables the mechanical recycling of such multilayers. Separating liquids were presented as another option to detach multilayer-multimaterials from each other during recycling.

Inge van Scholl, project manager at Triskelion, presented results from tests that were performed before poly((R)-3-hydroxybutyrate-co-(R)-3-hydroxyhexanoate (PHBH; CAS 147398-31-0) was added to Annex I of Regulation (EU) 10/2011 (FPF reported).

Lionel Spack from food and beverage company Nestlé addressed approaches for NIAS assessment, including better information exchange within the supply chain, chemical screening methods, and mitigation work. Spack concluded that a significant improvement in the assessment of NIAS has been achieved in recent years.

Matthieu Scheicher and Caroline Locre from the Centre Technique du Papier, Grenoble, France, presented the technical properties of a high-barrier material based on microfibrillated cellulose that can be used for laminating paper and board packaging. The material was developed during the EU-funded Sherpack project. While being recyclable and compostable, the material also improves the barrier’s properties against oxygen, water vapor and contaminants, the presenters concluded.

Eugenio Cavallini, technical manager at the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), shared his view on the current evaluation of the FCM legislation, presented the new recyclability guidelines published by CEPI (FPF reported), and stressed the importance of applying good manufacturing practice (GMP) throughout the value-chain.

Massimo Ramunni, deputy director general at the Italian Paper Association (ASSOCARTA), explained the launch of a proprietary trademark that informs consumers about the recyclability of a paper-based product. At the moment, this trademark is only used in Italy, since recyclability strongly depends on the local collection, sorting, and recycling systems in place.

Kaisa Herranen, senior manager at UPM-Kymmene Corporation, informed about the pulp and paper value chain information system and the development of a harmonized questionnaire that will support companies in the development of product stewardship practices and lead towards better compliance work (FPF reported).

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