A Sustainable and Compliant Solution for the Food Industry

Thermoformed plastic packaging is a widely used and versatile option for food products, as it offers protection, convenience, and affordability. However, thermoformed plastic packaging also needs to meet various regulatory standards and environmental goals to ensure safety, quality, and sustainability. 

Below, Rupin Rughani, our Product Sustainability Manager, answers some of the common questions that customers and consumers may have about thermoformed plastic packaging and its compliance with industry regulations.

Visiting a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)

What regulatory standards does thermoformed plastic packaging need to meet?

Thermoformed plastic packaging, like any other food contact material (FCM), needs to comply with a number of regulations that aim to protect human health and the environment. Some of the main regulatory standards that apply to thermoformed plastic packaging are:

  • Food Contact regulations: Rules for plastic food contact materials (FCM) composition, testing, labelling, and permitted substances. The main EU regulation is (EU) No 10/2011, which the UK still follows post-BREXIT. These regulations prevent chemical transfer to food that affects safety, quality, or taste.
  • FCM lab testing: Importers and manufacturers must test their products and get a report to show compliance with FCM regulations (e.g. substance and migration limits). Testing must be done by accredited labs and follow relevant standards and methods.
  • (EU) 2018/213 (BPA in Varnishes and Coatings): This regulation limits BPA leaching to food from plastic FCMs, varnishes and coatings to 0.05 mg/kg. It also bans BPA in some sensitive applications, like infant milk bottles.
  • (EU) 2022/1616 (Recycled Plastic FCM): This regulation applies to recycled PET packaging for food contact. It replaces (EC) No 282/2008 and sets the conditions and requirements for recycled PET in FCMs, such as quality, safety, and traceability.
  • Single-Use Plastics Directive (EU) & Ban (UK): These regulations define the materials and packaging formats that are banned or allowed. They aim to reduce the environmental impact of plastic products, especially marine litter, by banning or restricting them or imposing measures like labelling, collection, or recycling targets.
  • Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) compliance: This is a UK tax for plastic packaging components with less than 30% post-consumer recycled content. The tax rate is £200 per tonne of non-compliant plastic packaging. The tax encourages recycled plastic and reduces virgin plastic.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility: This is a policy that makes importers, manufacturers and brand owners responsible for their product’s environmental impact throughout their life cycle, including disposal. It requires them to report their packaging data and pay fees for recycling. It applies to all UK organisations that supply or import packaging with £1 million+ turnover and 25+ tonnes of packaging.

Note: Different regulations and EN standards may apply to different materials and products like paper and board, plastics, or active and intelligent materials.

How does Waddington Europe ensure compliance with industry regulations?

Attending the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg

As a leading manufacturer of thermoformed plastic packaging, we take compliance very seriously and follow a number of steps to ensure that our products meet the highest standards of quality and safety. Some of the ways we ensure compliance are:

  • We normally have a checklist of all the necessary regulations that apply to our products, and it is imperative that all these are monitored on a regular basis. We keep track of any changes or updates in the regulatory landscape and adjust our processes and products accordingly.
  • Memberships with various industry bodies help us keep on top of developments and changes in the regulatory space. We are members of organisations such as the British Plastics Federation (BPF), the Packaging Federation, and the European Thermoforming Division (ETD), which provide us with guidance, information, and support on regulatory matters.
  • Participating in industry/govt. consultations and workshops where these regulations and proposed changes are discussed in more detail. We actively engage with the relevant stakeholders and authorities to share our views and feedback on the regulations that affect our industry and our customers. We also seek to learn from the best practices and experiences of other industry players and experts.

A typical Day in the Life of a Product Sustainability and Compliance Manager.

Read More…