FSSAI approves recycled plastic in food material packaging

It has made new controls for reuse of PET products

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FSSAI has approved recycled plastic in food material packaging. Photo credit: John Cameron on Unsplash
FSSAI has approved recycled plastic in food material packaging. Photo credit: John Cameron on Unsplash

The new regulation laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India overrides their previous packaging rule of 2016. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued new regulations for using reused plastic as a food packing material. This food authority has prepared an outline for amending the packaging materials.

According to FnB news 2022 regulation, FSSAI will make way for recycled plastic once it has been put down in the gazette. This rule defeats the purpose of the previously laid one that did not allow plastic carry bags made of recycled plastic for food items. 

Products created from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can now be used for packing, storing, carrying, or distributing food, as long as the Food Authority approves. It will replace packaging regulation sub-clause (e) in clause 4 about specific food packing standards, which deals with plastic materials in touch with food products. 

Amended guidelines of FSSAI

Currently, FSSAI has modified the rules regarding using recycled plastic in food product packaging. Also, the Food Safety and Standards Authority has made new controls for reusing PET products for food contact applications.

The guidelines cover the process of converting post-consumer PET bottles used for food packaging into food-grade recycled PET resins appropriate for manufacturing bottles and packaging material for bottling and packaging and its testing. The acceptability criteria for using food-grade recycled PET resin material in bottling or packaging activities are also covered in the guidelines.

Guidelines for using recycled plastic in packing ready-to-eat food should include the source of post-consumer plastic waste, the type of polymer used, and the types and temperature of packed food.

Efficient management of the country’s waste

Previously use of all types of recycled plastic was banned in India under the Plastic Waste Management Rules, however, during the last quarter of FY 21, FSSAI allowed the use of recycled plastic in food and drink packaging.

This was to positively affect the efficient management of the country’s plastic waste, which stood at 5.58 million tonnes annually, as stated by the FSSAI chief executive officer Arun Singhal. He also added that they are in the process of further setting standards for reused plastics, which will help reduce plastic waste in the country.

But there were concerns regarding using plastic with toxic materials that would be dangerous if in contact with food or drinks. Since India has not set specific standards for plastic recycling, it will be challenging to know the composition of reused plastic and its quality to get more ideas about the toxins.

Annexure 1, set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, lists the set of materials and recycling processes by which these recycled plastic materials can be labeled as Food Grade Recycled PET. It also checks if the resins have undergone a sterilization process to attain the proper standards to hold the foods and drinks.

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