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Japan Proposes Reorganization of Positive List for Synthetic Resins

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Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) has proposed a reorganization of the Positive Lists (PL) for synthetic resins for food utensils, containers, and packaging (UCP). 

By way of background, on April 28, 2020, MHLW published Notification No. 196 of 2020, which required approval of substances used in “synthetic resins” for food-contact articles. The Notification was accompanied by a PL of substances that could be used to produce food-contact utensils, containers, and packaging (UCP). The current structure of the lists of permitted substances is shown below.

  • Table 1(1) – Base Polymers (Plastics)
  • Table 1(2) – Base Polymers (Coatings, Etc.)
  • Table 1(3) – Minor Monomers List
  • Table 2 – Additives, Coating Agents, Etc.

(For more information on Japan’s Notification No. 196 of 2020, see the article, A Move to Mandatory: Japan Finalizes its Positive List for “Synthetic Resins.”)

The proposed new structure for the lists of permitted substances has been streamlined considerably:

  • Table 1 – Substrates (Monomer Base)
  • New Table 2 – Additives (synthetic macromolecules, synthetic low molecular weight substances, purified naturally occurring substances, synthetic low molecular weight substances, and food additives)

Pigments and coloring agents are subject to a separate standard.

On April 26, MHLW posted the new, reorganized PL tables concerning “existing substances” on its website (in Japanese). However, in certain instances, a petition will need to be submitted to MHLW by July 15, 2022 to ensure that a substance is listed on the PL. This is relevant where an applicant wishes to have a substance added to the PL (the substance must have been on the Japan market prior to June 1, 2020); a substance is listed in the new draft Table 1 as “pending,” and when the applicant wishes to revise any information in the new draft of Table 1.  

A final version of PLs of “Existing Substances” will be published sometime in 2023 or 2024, followed by the period for public comment. Full implementation of the new PL will occur by June 1, 2025.