Zero waste Live!

(Future of) recycling and use of recycled plastics in food packaging

6th December 2022 · 2:00 PM (CET)

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Besides many beneficial properties, food packaging raises concerns due to its high production volume (the majority being single-use plastics made of fossil-fuel-based raw materials), and problems related to waste management. Examples of plastic food packaging include bottles, trays, bags, pots, cups, pouches, bowls, and many more. According to the EU waste hierarchy, prevention and reuse must be prioritised to achieve a circular economy; yet, we recognise that safe and efficient plastics recycling has a role to play.

Evidence shows that while virgin plastics contain known hazardous chemicals and untested chemicals which can be hazardous, recycled plastics contain (almost always) higher levels of hazardous substances; in both cases, these chemicals can end up in the human body due to their migration from the food contact materials to food and drink. The presence of harmful chemicals in food packaging is impacting both our health and our environment. Moreover, they hinder safe recycling. This calls for caution and a strong harmonised regulatory framework in the EU, to protect human health, prevent toxic recycling and to guarantee clean material cycles in a circular economy.

In September 2022, the Commission adopted a new Regulation on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. The scope of this Regulation covers all kinds of recycled plastic and recycling technologies, including mechanical recycling, recycling of products from a closed and controlled product chain, the use of recycled plastic behind a functional barrier, and forms of chemical recycling. New rules will apply to novel recycling technologies and the evaluation of recycling processes.

This webinar went into great depth to answer the following key questions: 

  • What the current scientific evidence shows on hazardous substances in recycled plastics used in food packaging, and what are the challenges in the safety assessment of recycling processes/chemical contamination risk assessment
  • How the EU, through new legal requirements, will ensure clean and safe plastic content intended for use in contact with food

Speakers’ Presentations

Jane Muncke’s Presentation
Bastiaan Schupp’s Presentation


Jane Muncke

Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Food Packaging Forum

Jane Muncke holds a doctorate degree in environmental toxicology and a MSc in environmental science from the ETH Zurich. Since 2012, she has been working as Managing Director and Chief Scientific Officer at the Food Packaging Forum. Jane has extensive experience as a science communicator and presenter and is a full scientific member of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), the Society for Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology (SETAC), the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Endocrine Society. She is also an expert member of the Swiss Organic Framing Association BioSuisse.

Bastiaan Schuup

Team Leader, Food Contact Materials, European Commission

Bastiaan leads the food contact materials team in the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission. He is a chemical engineer by education, and has worked on food contact materials since 2011. His main responsibility is the general implementation of the legislation on food contact materials, and he has a specific focus on plastics and recycled plastics.

Dorota Napierska (Moderator)

Policy Officer on Toxic-Free Consumption and Production, Zero Waste Europe

Dorota is a toxicologist and holds a PhD degree in Biomedical Sciences. Prior to joining ZWE, Dorota was leading the Safer Chemicals programme at Health Care Without Harm Europe, and worked for the European Commission (DG Joint Research Center) and at the Department of Public Health of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). At ZWE, Dorota’s work focuses on the topic of non-toxicity of products and packaging (FCMs in particular), and the clean and effective material cycles needed for achievement of a truly circular economy.

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