Food packaging facilitates storage, handling, transport, and preservation of food and is essential for preventing food waste. Besides these beneficial properties, food packaging causes rising concern for the environment due to its high production volume, often short usage time, and problems related to waste management and littering. Reduction, reuse, and recycling, but also redesign support the aims of the circular economy. These tools also have the potential to decrease the environmental impact of food packaging.In this article, we focus on chemical safety aspects of recycled food packaging, as recycling is currently seen as an important measure to manage packaging waste. However, recycling may increase the levels of potentially hazardous chemicals in the packaging and -after migration- in the food. Since exposure to certain chemicals migrating from food packaging has been associated with chronic diseases, it is of high importance to assess the safety of recycled packaging. Therefore, we describe recycling processes of commonly used food packaging materials, including plastics, paper and board, aluminum, steel, and multimaterial multilayers (e.g., beverage cartons). Further, we give an overview of typical migrants from all types of recycled food packaging materials, and summarize approaches to reduce chemical contamination. We discuss the role of food packaging in the circular economy, where recycling is only one of many complementary tools for providing environmentally-friendly and safe food packaging.
Journal of Cleaner Production – Elsevier
Published: Aug 20, 2018
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