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Approval of recycled polystyrene (rPS) in food contact applications

Since the beginning of 2021, players along the entire value chain have been committed to a closed cycle for food packaging made from polystyrene (PS). PS has a similarly low diffusion capacity as PET and therefore hardly absorbs any harmful substances. In addition, PS is primarily used in the food packaging sector for dairy products such as yoghurts, which makes it easier to identify food contact materials. Like PET, PS is therefore generally suitable for closed loops.

Thanks to the scientific work on PS, the preparatory work in Switzerland and the networking of players along the value chain (producers, distributors, retailers, sorters and collectors), the system is now ready to take the next step and use recycled polystyrene (rPS) in food contact materials. The corresponding approval was applied for from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) in February 2024.

We were able to play a leading role in this project. Based on the preliminary work of the "Closing the loop for PS Switzerland" round table (which we have been leading since 2021), we were able to develop the FSVO application in a follow-up order. This project involves compiling the necessary technical documentation for submitting the application to the FSVO for food approval of rPS. The documentation includes detailed process descriptions of all the procedures used, a risk assessment and a quality assurance system.

In addition to the existing challenge tests from the EU, various tests were carried out, all of which confirmed the safety of the material. The preparation of the documentation also included discussions with the FSVO and numerous relevant stakeholders. Furthermore, the technical implementation geared towards food approval was discussed, defined and described in close cooperation with InnoPlastics AG.

The FSVO's review is now pending, and we remain actively involved as the primary point of contact for queries. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us!

The use of secondary material as a substitute for primary plastic conserves resources and saves energy. A study on the ecological benefits of polystyrene has been carried out by the European umbrella organization(Styrenics Circular Solutions, SCS) and a publication is expected soon. However, we are also dependent on consumers for reuse, as they are responsible for recycling the material. It is therefore important to sensitize the population to the fact that collecting plastics is sensible and important.

Contact person

Dr. Melanie Haupt(melanie.haupt@realcycle.ch, +41 44 537 82 80)

Client

InnoPlastic AG, Greiner Packaging AG, Migros-Industrie AG, Emmi Frischeprodukte AG, Lactalis Nestlé Frischprodukte AG, SwissPrimePack AG

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