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Food for Thought
October 2021
Welcome to 'Food for Thought', a newsletter sharing key updates on food contact material (FCM) policy, ideas for revised FCM legislation and useful resources. There are thousands of chemicals in food contact materials that can potentially migrate into our food or drink, and many of these chemicals can harm our health and pollute the environment. This is why we need more protective regulation.
New infographic: Harmful chemicals in food packaging hamper the circular economy

A new infographic from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Zero Waste Europe, CHEM Trust and ClientEarth illustrates how harmful chemicals in food packaging can hamper the circular economy and put our health at risk.

Recycling is a key part of achieving a circular economy, but hazardous chemicals are not removed during the recycling process. This means recycled materials can contain hazardous chemicals, sometimes at levels higher than those found in virgin materials.

To protect public health and ensure the creation of a toxic-free circular economy, hazardous chemicals should not be used in food packaging in the first place.

The infographic calls on policymakers to:

  • Thoroughly assess, measure and control chemicals in food contact materials, including food packaging;

  • Improve transparency and traceability of chemicals throughout the supply chain, including recycling processes, and at the point of sale;

  • Prohibit known substances of concern in all food contact materials, to protect health and prevent toxic recycling;

  • Ensure that food packaging is designed to be toxic-free, reusable (as much as possible), and recyclable at the end of the life cycle;

  • Set the same standards for primary and recycled food contact materials, to guarantee the same level of safety and build consumer trust in recycled materials.

Read more about the infographic.

New study finds harmful PFAS in Irish food packaging

A new study from Irish NGO VOICE shows the presence of harmful PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in food packaging available on the Irish market. VOICE is calling on the Irish government to implement an immediate and total ban on all PFAS in food contact materials.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence, including one by CHEM Trust, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and seven other civil society organisations, demonstrating the presence of PFAS in food packaging. The revised FCM regulation must ensure that hazardous chemicals, such as PFAS, are not allowed in food contact materials including food packaging.

The impact of PFAS pollution on people’s health and the environment was highlighted during a meeting of the EU Environment Council on 6th October, in which Belgium called for stronger action on PFAS.

Update on the revision of EU FCM regulation at the Food Packaging Forum’s 2021 workshop

On 6th-8th October, the Food Packaging Forum held their workshop ‘Different perspectives on food contact materials: Working together to make FCMs safer’. 

During the workshop, European Commission DG Sante policy officer Jonathan Briggs provided an update on the ongoing revision of the FCM regulation: there will be a 12-week consultation in early 2022 to gather more information to develop ideas for FCM policy, as well as targeted activities such as group interviews, surveys and possibly workshops.

If you didn’t manage to join the workshop live, check out the presentations that are available on the Food Packaging Forum website.

This newsletter is produced by a collaboration between CHEM Trust, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Zero Waste Europe (ZWE). Together, we are working towards creating a toxic-free environment where nobody should have to worry about the presence of health-harming chemicals in the products that come into contact with our food.

CHEM Trust is a charity based in Germany and the UK, with the overarching aim to prevent synthetic chemicals from causing long term damage to wildlife or humans, by ensuring that chemicals which cause such harm are substituted with safer alternatives. (EU Transparency number: 27053044762-72)

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects human health in the European Union (EU) and beyond. HEAL works to shape laws and policies that promote planetary and human health and protect those most affected by pollution, and raise awareness on the benefits of environmental action for health. (EU Transparency number: 00723343929-96)

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) is the European network of communities, local leaders, experts, and change agents working towards the elimination of waste in our society. We advocate for sustainable systems and the redesign of our relationship with resources, to accelerate a just transition towards zero waste for the benefit of people and the planet. (EU Transparency number: 47806848200-34)
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