On January 17, 2023, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) announced to approve the first physically recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials for manufacturing food packaging1. The authority reckons the new recognition of physically recycled materials can benefit resource recycling and environmental protection, reducing the usage of new plastics.
In South Korea, recycling plastic resources mainly adopts chemical processes for manufacturing food packaging, including heating, chemical reactions, refining, and polymerizing.
However, physically recycled materials are obtained by washing and crushing the used synthetic resin materials into flakes and then refining the materials. The manufacturing process is more simplified, which helps reduce the cost.
Enterprises intending to manufacture food packaging using physically recycled PET materials, shall apply for recognition from MFDS. The competent authority will inspect the safety issues, including materials, facilities, contaminant removal rates, etc.
According to MFDS, recognition criteria are:
Raw materials (flakes) for reproducing the food packaging shall comply with the Standards of Recycled Materials for Food Packages2.
The purpose of the primary process of each production stage, and the facility operation condition shall be confirmed by MFDS.
The methods for removing the contaminants and the removal rates shall follow the provisions under the Attached Table 4 of Standards and Specifications for Utensils, Containers and Packages3.