Understanding the risks posed by potential contaminants in recycled food packaging is necessary to safeguard public and environmental health, according to a new IAFNS-supported study.

Researchers at Iowa State University highlight the necessity of monitoring Non-Intentionally Added Substances and aligning them with regulations to limit the use of potentially harmful additives in plastics. More monitoring would enhance the safe recycling and disposal of plastic waste – which are key to building a more circular economy.

Packaging is one of the most important sectors to track as it comprises almost 40 percent of total plastic demand. According to the U.S. EPA, 14.5 million tons of plastic containers and packaging were produced in 2018. The proportion of this that is being recycled has held steady or even declined over the past few years.

It is important to consider the potential health and environmental impacts of these compounds and to monitor their concentrations in both virgin and Post-Consumer Recycled polymers so that re-use does not pose unexpected or unidentified risks.

IAFNS’ Food Packaging Safety & Sustainability Committee continues to support original research on food packaging and recycling to make sustainability safe. It is just one of IAFNS Scientific Committees that contribute original research on the food and beverage ecosystem.

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