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EFSA backs recycled post-consumer PET into food contact material methods

By Joe Whitworth , 06-Dec-2012

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved two processes used to recycle post-consumer PET into food contact materials.

The body’s panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids (CEF) backed systems from The Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad, Spain and The Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, Austria.

The Spanish submission was made on behalf of Nosinyec S.L., Spain and the Austrian evaluation for PET Recycling Team GmbH.

Proposal details

The first proposal, made up of four steps, is deemed to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) pellets from PET bottles collected through post-consumer collection systems.

The recycled pellets are intended to be used up to 100% for the manufacture of food contact materials to be used in direct contact with foodstuffs for long term storage at room temperature, with or without hotfill.

“First post-consumer PET bottles are processed into washed and dried flakes which are used as input of the RPET Nosinyec/OHL technology. In the step 2, dried flakes are extruded into pellets which are then pre-crystallised in step 3 before being fed into a reactor step 4 in which they are further crystallised and solid-state polymerised (SSP),” said the CEF summary.

As part of the process, a challenge test was conducted with surrogate contaminants at laboratory scale on the process steps 2 and 3 (the two in line reactors) to measure decontamination efficiency.

The decontamination efficiencies obtained for each surrogate contaminant from the challenge test, ranging from 95.9 to 98.7 %, have been used to calculate the residual concentrations of potential unknown contaminants in pellets (Cres)...”

The panel concluded the recycled PET obtained for the manufacture of materials and articles for contact with all types of foodstuffs for hotfill and/or long term storage at room temperature is not considered of safety concern but should be verified periodically.

Austrian proposal

The Austrian proposal is also a four-step process to produce recycle PET pellets from PET bottles collected through post-consumer collection systems.

“First post-consumer PET bottles are processed into washed and dried flakes which are used as input of the PRT (recoSTAR PET-FG) technology. The flakes are dried and crystallised in a first continuous reactor under inert gas (step 2) and then heated again at high temperature under inert gas in a second continuous reactor (step 3) before being extruded into pellets (step 4).”

The panel conducted a test with surrogate contaminants at a laboratory scale on the process steps two and three (the two in line reactors) to measure the decontamination efficiency.

“After having examined the challenge test provided, the panel concluded that the two steps, the drying and crystallisation (step 2) and the heating of the crystallised flakes (step 3) are the critical steps for the decontamination efficiency of the process,” the panel reported.

“The operating parameters to control their performance are the temperature, the gas flow and the residence time.”

The panel concluded that the recycled PET obtained intended for the manufacture of materials and articles for contact with foodstuffs for hotfill and/or long term storage at room temperature is not of safety concern.

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