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Food for Thought
April 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.
EU countries endorse Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
The Council of the EU has published their conclusions on the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, and endorsed a rapid and ambitious delivery of the strategy.

The Council conclusions, "Sustainable Chemicals Strategy of the Union: Time to Deliver", ask the European Commission to implement the actions set out by the strategy. These include plans to accelerate the identification and phase out of the most harmful chemicals from consumer products, including in food contact materials.

Health and environment groups have highlighted the Strategy as a significant step forward in the delivery of the EU's promises to minimise people’s exposure to harmful chemical substances, but stress that it must be implemented swiftly and properly.

Read more about the conclusions in CHEM Trust's recent blog post.
New webinar series on the role of FCM in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability
The Food Packaging Forum have launched a new webinar series focused on the new strategy, "Putting the EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) into action: Challenges and opportunities for Food Contact Materials (FCMs)".

Read more about the series and the upcoming webinars here.
European Commission suggests full revision of legislation on food contact materials could be necessary to 'future-proof' legislation

During a recent Chemical Watch conference on food contact regulations, a European Commission policy officer suggested that developing a new regulatory framework could 'future-proof' legislation.

In their consultation on the Inception Impact Assessment (IIA) earlier this year, the Commission presented two options for revising the legislation:

1) Use the current regulatory framework as a cornerstone to solve the problems identified
2) Develop a new regulatory framework to replace the current Regulation

NGOs including Zero Waste Europe, CHEM Trust and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) have expressed their support for option 2, to develop a new regulatory framework to replace the current regulation. A complete reform is needed to ensure the protection of our health and the environment from harmful chemicals in food contact materials, and guarantee a toxic-free circular economy.

The Commission will now assess the stakeholder feedback. The next step will be a full impact assessment on the proposed revision, this is expected in mid-2021.

Businesses call for policy measures that support toxic-free reusable packaging

More than 100 businesses from across Europe have already signed an open letter launched on 15th March, calling on local, national and EU decision-makers to adopt ambitious policies to support the transition to toxic-free reusable food packaging.

Despite their commitment to pursue a truly circular, zero waste, and non-toxic economy, for example by offering reuse solutions, services, and products, these businesses are still facing numerous barriers. This is why they now call on decision-makers to play their part by creating legislative conditions that allow toxic-free reuse and refill business models to thrive.

Recent publications highlight importance of tackling hazardous chemicals in food packaging
Report highlights how removing hazardous chemicals from plastic packaging can support a circular economy

A new report from ChemSec highlights how removing hazardous chemicals in plastic packaging, such as plastic food contact materials, could support the shift to a circular economy and increase the market for recycled materials.

'What goes around' states that the presence of hazardous chemicals in plastic packaging is a key barrier to recycling, and that such chemicals must be designed out of new products.

"Our analysis shows that if chemicals of concern were more efficiently addressed, the market for recycled materials would increase. Even a small increase of 10% in the recycling of plastic packaging would correspond to an annual increase in EU market value of €2.6 billion" – ChemSec Executive Director Anne-Sofie Bäckar.

New book highlights threat that hazardous chemicals pose to human fertility and reproductive development

A new book, 'Count Down – How our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development and imperilling the future of the human race' by renowned epidemiologist Dr Shanna Swan highlights how exposure to hazardous chemicals, including via food contact materials, is harming human fertility and reproductive development.

'Count Down' presents stark statistics: worldwide fertility has dropped more than 50% over the past 50 years, and a man today has half the number of sperm his grandfather had.

The Health and Environment Alliance spoke with Dr Swan, toxicologist Dr. Majorie van Duursen (Free University of Amsterdam) and OBGYN Dr. Lola Gómez Roig (Hospital Sant Joan de Déu) about how chemicals are threatening fertility, and how EU policy action can help reverse this trend. Her book provides information on how people are exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals, including through food packaging.

CHEM Trust sat down with Dr Swan to discuss her research on chemicals, fertility and reproductive health, read the interview here.

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, businesses, experts, and change agents working towards the same vision: phasing out waste from our society. We empower communities to redesign their relationship with resources, to adopt smarter lifestyles and sustainable consumption patterns, and to think circular. (EU Transparency number: 47806848200-34)
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