The majority of plastic used to package food is used for storage. It is common sense to recycle some plastic to make new packaging for food, considering both the amount of packaging waste and the resources used to produce it. The circular economy is an important topic in Sydney, extended producer responsibility should lead to more recycling.
Material contact with food is strictly controlled, including plastic. There are many hurdles to overcome before plastic reprocessing can be used as food contact material. The disposal phase is a critical step. Food plastic packaging can be mixed with plastic for multiple purposes. This can lead to plastic contamination and have an impact on the production of regenerated plastic.
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Plastic packaging that has contained detergents or personal care products may not be suitable to be reused as food contact material. Then, consider the possible chemical substances that may be found in plastic packaging. Researchers in Switzerland have identified 906 substances that could be found in plastic packaging.
Here are some more tips to make plastic reuse easier:
Producers are encouraged to:
- Use only one material to package food, such as PET or PP.
- Avoid glues and adhesives that are hard to get rid of, and can cause contamination.
- Avoid using coloring
- Avoid individual components within the packaging
Although recycling for food contact is still in development and regulations are not yet fully in place, many innovative producers already use recycled plastic for food packaging. To act as a barrier between food and plastic packaging, the most popular form of reused plastic is the application of virgin PET co-extruded on the inside.