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Nestle tackles food contact chemicals in recycled paper

By Rod Addy , 28-Feb-2013
Last updated on 04-Mar-2013 at 14:28 GMT

Nestle is cracking down on food contact materials in recycled paper as it addresses some of the challenges of reducing its environmental impact, according to head of packaging Anne Roulin.

Roulin told FoodProductionDaily.com: "We are working intensively with suppliers to have sources of recycled paper board without the issues related to migration that are encountered with the current grades."

"Our basic approach was to eliminate all areas of concern. Then we entered into a particular project to eliminate recycled paper from direct food contact."

One of the concerns about using recycled packaging in the food and drink industry is that it is composed of mixed materials, some of which incorporate coatings that could migrate to food and drink.

Attracted alarm

Some of the health effects from the migration of such coatings, for example, Bisphenol A, have attracted alarm through studies linking them to carcinogenic properties or organ failure.

Many experts believe these food contact materials leech into food and drink in such minute quantities that they could not possibly affect human health. However, the quantity of such materials in recycled packaging is not immediately obvious. As a result, Nestle has decided to adopt a precautionary approach.

In a separate move, the global roll-out of Nestle's comprehensive life cycle assessment tool ECODEX was proceeding according to plan, said Roulin.

'Whole value chain'

"ECODEX covers the whole value chain, agriculture, packaging, distribution, retail and consumer use to end of life. This allows us to optimise all the steps in the chain."

The software tool focuses on six core areas, reflecting Nestle's overall green priorities, she said. They are:  greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, non-renewable energy and minerals, impact on the ecosphere and land use.

"By using these impact areas you can get a very balanced assessment," Roulin told this site. The roll out had started in November and would continue throughout this year, she added.

Agriculture

Including the impact of agriculture had proved especially challenging, she said, as it was an area that did not have very developed metrics.

"We have had to initiate the creation of a database with outside partners," said Roulin. "We are proceeding surely but not too fast with the roll-out. We aim to roll it out to all product technology centres this year, then greatly expand it worldwide."

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