New briefing: Food packaging must be safe to be sustainable
A new briefing ‘Marrying safety with sustainability in food packaging – Briefing for businesses’ highlights that for food packaging to be sustainable, it must be safe, and that means making sure it’s free from harmful chemicals.
The briefing, published by the civil society organisation Zero Waste Europe, states that while society is pushing for a shift from single-use packaging to more sustainable reusable alternatives, chemical safety is often minimised or ignored in these discussions.
Hundreds of harmful chemicals are allowed to be used in the food packaging and food contact materials that we use daily, including chemicals that are carcinogenic, persistent, and able to disrupt the body’s sensitive hormone system. Numerous studies have found harmful chemicals in food packaging and other materials. Chemicals used in food packaging and other food contact materials can leach or migrate into the food we eat and the beverages we drink.
When food packaging and other materials are recycled, the harmful chemicals they contain can enter the recycling stream. To ensure food packaging is safe to reuse and recycle, harmful chemicals should not be in the product from the start.
The briefing includes information for businesses to help them better understand the issues linked to harmful chemicals in food packaging. It highlights the risks that harmful chemicals in food packaging pose to businesses, as well as the opportunity businesses have to introduce safer packaging to better protect human health and support the shift towards a circular economy.
It concludes that: ‘‘Safety’ and ‘sustainability’ concepts are directly interlinked: in order for food packaging to be truly sustainable, it needs to be safe for both human and environmental health.’
Zero Waste Europe is calling for EU legislation to urgently phase out the most hazardous chemicals, and ensure packaging and other food contact materials are safe for use, reuse and recycling. They also call for businesses to move away from using harmful chemicals in their products.
For more information on harmful chemicals in food contact materials, check out our website Toxic Free Food Packaging, and subscribe to our newsletter Food for Thought, produced in collaboration with Zero Waste Europe and the Health and Environment Alliance.