Without paper packaging, no internal market

Massimo Medugno, general manager, Assocarta, Italy
Massimo Medugno, general manager, Assocarta, Italy

EU Regulation 1935/2004 specifies general provisions for the safety of materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs. It also provides for a series of specific, legal measures to be developed, each one covering a particular material.

The list of those enacted is incomplete and paper and board represents the most significant sector to have been omitted.

Paper and board is made from renewable raw materials and it is the packaging material with the highest recycling rate in Europe and thus contributes to the EU’s aim to achieve a truly Circular Economy.

Paper and board is the leading packaging material in terms of sales volume and the food and drink industry, to which it is supplied, is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU.

The time is now right to work with the Commission and develop specific rules for the paper and board sector.

These rules can be innovative.

The Commission is preparing for new legislation in the area of food contact materials, with all options open. Industry is willing to put in the resources necessary to technically support the Commission as an active partner in developing a truly innovative solution.

An innovative approach could be a combination of fully-harmonised, mandatory essential requirements and a series of less prescriptive rules and guidance.

That means, firstly, that this would promote a sustainable and much less resource-intensive process (compared to the existing procedure used for plastics) and, secondly, that it could be used as a template into which would fit future legislation for other non-harmonised materials and articles.

Paper and board has a highly positive position in the circular economy with its easy recyclability and emphasis on natural ingredients.

A specific rules would ensure paper and board being perceived as possibly the safest and most sustainable food contact material, thus helping to support a low carbon bioeconomy in the EU.