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EU to Develop System that Allows Separation of Post-Consumer, Food-Contact Plastic Waste

A newly organized European Union consortium, Polymark, has undertaken an initiative to increase the availability of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) food and beverage containers. EU Regulation (EC) No 282/2008 on recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come in contact with food does not allow plastic containers that have been used for a non food application to be recycled and subsequently used in an application where it will come into contact with food. The goal of the initiative is to develop a food container marking and identification system that will allow reliable separation of food contact approved from nonfood contact approved post-consumer plastic waste.

More than 60 billion PET bottles were collected and recycled in 2012, representing 52% of all discarded PET containers sold in Europe; nearly 1/3 of recycled PET is being used to produce new PET bottles, reported PetCore Europe, a member of the Polymark consortium and coordinator of the project, in a press release about the effort.

"PET is the largest plastic material recycled in Europe," said Roberto Bertaggia, President of PetCore Europe. "The technology developed will help meet the growing demand for high quality PET suitable for food contact applications."

Some of the specific goals of the project are to:

  • Develop a system of product coding
  • Develop appropriate marker chemistries and validate their functionality
  • Develop a method of removing/deactivating markers
  • Ensure performance of the market identification system
  • Conduct industrial-scale trials of the system

In addition to PetCore Europe, the Polymark Consortium consists of the European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW), Plastic Recyclers in Europe (PRE), the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery (EPRO), 4PET Recycling BV, and Closed Loop Recycling Ltd. The EU has contributed 1.478 million € of the project's 2.2 million € budget.