Joint industry initiative Styrenics Circular Solutions (ScS) has submitted a “novel technology” notification for recycled polystyrene (rPS) under the European Union’s (EU) new regulation.

The technology has been designed to ensure that rPS can be used as a safe food contact material within a functional barrier in an ABA structure.

With this notification, SCS intends to facilitate “immediate” and “continued availability” of safe rPS, manufactured using the novel technology, in adherence to the EU’s stringent conditions and regulation 2022/1616.

This EU regulation came into effect last October. It laid down stringent rules to enhance the safety of recycled plastic food contact materials and articles (FCM).

Under this regulation, the industry is allowed to use polystyrene recycled with “novel technologies” as FCM in food packaging, if certain mandatory conditions are met.

These conditions include completing a notification, ongoing monitoring and reporting of detailed safety information.

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SCS said the submitted notification is now subject to verification by the competent authority.

The latest submission also signifies that rPS produced with notified installations and technology may be utilised as FCM in the market immediately.

SCS secretary general Jens Kathmann said: “This significant step will accelerate the uptake of rPS in the market.

“Our notification builds on polystyrene’s intrinsic suitability as recycled food contact material, due to its low diffusion characteristics, among other things.

“Furthermore, we, our members and partners have been developing multiple other technologies for recycled polystyrene that can be safely used also in direct contact with food. The investments and strong engagement of the value chain are paying off.”

In the next steps, more installations for recycling and transforming polystyrene to ABA sheets may be added under the existing notification.

The SCS-led consortium currently includes European manufacturers, converters and recyclers. The group is also open to adding more stakeholders of the value chain to boost the recycling and processing capacity for addressing market demands for safe recycled plastic FCM.

In February 2022, SCS filed an application with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for authorising rPS for use in food contact applications.