SPAIN – Spanish research institute Aimplas has developed a new trademark to certify the safety and functionality of reusable food packaging as new legislation and public pressure mount on the industry.

According to the firm, the trademark design has been based on Regulation (EC) 1935/2004, Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011, and Regulation (EC) No 282/2008, as well as the recently issued dishwasher resistance standard UNE 53928:2020.

The organization adds that it drew on over 30 years of experience in the food packaging sector and its laboratories to develop the trademark aimed at the plastics industry.

“This trademark certifies that a product is designed to be safely reused after several washings and passed the tests required for a product to be considered reusable in terms of food safety. The trademark also validates the product’s functionality,” says Aimplas.

According to AIMPLAS, the tests a product must pass before being awarded the trademark include dishwasher resistance testing for at least five dishwasher cycles, a non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) risk assessment, and migration tests to guarantee migration to food does not present a risk to human health.

Sensory tests are also carried out to ensure that the reuse of packaging does not modify food’s organoleptic characteristics, the organization adds.

Aimplas emphasizes that plastic packaging, in particular, is the subject of an increasing number of regulations aimed at promoting the circular economy, including the EU’s Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which stipulates that all packaging must be recyclable or reusable by 2030.

This pressure presents a serious challenge for producers, says Aimplas, since, in the case of food packaging, it is difficult to guarantee the safety of reusable packaging after repeated use and washings.

Despite regulations and consumer perceptions, many researchers and industry bodies stress that switching to reusable formats will have an inverse impact on the circular economy, driving up emissions and material waste.

Recently, the European Paper Packaging Alliance urged the EC to focus on scientific findings in its legislation after a new meta-analysis suggested that single-use paper-based packaging is more environmentally sustainable than reusable formats.

The findings are the conclusion of a meta-analysis by renowned engineering consultancy Ramboll.

The analysis, which examined 26 scientific studies, shows that reuse systems impose exclusive additional burdens on the environment compared to single-use, related to additional washing, take-back transportation and breakage and unit loss associated with takeaway.

Similarly, many plastics experts like Dr. Chris DeArmitt have criticized the “persecution” of plastic packaging products as unscientific, pointing to numerous life cycle assessments showing that the most common plastics have the lowest environmental footprint.

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