Aimplas has held during the 24th and 25th of May the fourth edition of OKPLAST, its Plastics and Legislation Forum that this time has taken on the character of an international seminar and that for two days has brought together more than 120 professionals from the packaging industry with the sponsorship of Andersen and Raorsa.
During the five sessions that made up its program, in which 25 speakers participated, the current situation of the sector was presented, as well as the main novelties and trends in the legislation and regulations that regulate this industry.
During the first of the presentations, Pierre Henry, from the European Commission’s Directorate General for the Environment, explained the status of the Draft Ecodesign Regulation for Products (ESPR) and how it will impact on the way products are conceived and consumed today, since they must be durable, reusable, upgradeable and repairable, contain no substances of concern and incorporate recycled material, taking into account the efficient use of energy and raw materials for their manufacture, but also their end of life so that they are recyclable. For this, the generation of waste and its impact on the environment will be taken into account, including life cycle and carbon footprint analyses.
Subsequently, Juan Ruiz, from Plastics Europe, addressed the issue of plastic pollution in the marine environment as a global problem and presented the ongoing regulatory actions by the different countries within the framework of the UN as well as the industry’s own initiatives such as OCS (Operation Clean Sweep) and the Reshaping Plastics report that warns about the need to improve the circularity of plastics and promote actions to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. For her part, Mariana Reina, from the Aimplas Competitive and Strategic Intelligence Department, reviewed the regulation related to packaging and the objectives of reuse, recycled material content and compostability and insisted on the need to educate on waste separation due to the risk posed by the introduction of bioplastics in the yellow container.
José Guaita, from Heura, spoke about the existing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Systems and those that are currently being developed for commercial packaging in Spain and insisted on the great opportunity they represent to introduce post-consumer material into the production chain of a country like Spain that has the largest recycling capacity in Europe per inhabitant. To close the first table, Oscar Hernández, from Anarpla, put on the table the issue of the end of waste condition and its regulation in Spain and in the rest of the European Union countries.
In the second block of the day, the application of the Waste Law and the impact of the plastic tax were addressed. In this sense, Angela Osma, from ANAIP, highlighted the important effort that companies are making to comply with this standard and the management of the tax and recalled that from 2024 it will be necessary to accredit the recycled content by certificate. Mar Guardiola, from Andersen, spoke about the fiscal implications of the tax and highlighted the complexity of the lack of harmonization at the European level. Enrique Benavent, Packaging researcher at Aimplas, focused his presentation on reuse as an alternative to reduce the impact of the tax and presented the Aimplas Designed to be Reusable stamp. José Vicente Zaragoza, from Kiwa, closed the block along the same lines, focusing in this case on the use of recycled material, on the collaboration of Kiwa and Aimplas to accredit its traceability and on the accreditation of recycled content through UNE-EN 15343:2008.
The first day ended with a block dedicated to the REACH regulation that regulates the use of chemical substances that began with a presentation on novelties in the registration of polymers and in the restriction of fluorinated thermoplastics (PFAs) by Francisco Hernández, from Chemservice. Next, Eva Bonillo, from Servireach, addressed the application of REACH in the mechanical recycling of plastics, while Elena Adán, from BASF, did the same with chemical recycling, a process that she described as efficient but that still has to face challenges such as implementing these new technologies on an industrial scale or purification processes. Belén Monje, lead researcher of Mechanochemistry at Aimplas, reviewed the main prohibitions or restrictions at the international level of substances monitored and of concern, such as those contained in halogenated flame retardants.
The day on Thursday started with a table dedicated to product certification in which the relevance of product certification was insisted on to prove its sustainability and avoid greenwashing. Sonia Albein, lead researcher of Mechanical Recycling at Aimplas, spoke about the certifications that support recyclability such as Recycle or recycled content such as EuCertPlast, while Sara García, from TÜV Austria, discussed the certifications related to compostability and biodegradability and Anna Lisa Polimeni, from IPPR, presented the Plastic Seconda Vita certification. Pedro Fernandes of APCER, addressed the end of waste condition and its regulation in Portugal. Finally, Rafael Postigo, from UNE, recalled the relevance of standards in legislation to generate confidence in the industry itself and in its relationship with the consumer.
To close the day, the regulation of plastics in contact with food or cosmetics was addressed by Darío Dainelli, from Darío Dainelli Policy & Regulatory Affairs, who explained the challenges and opportunities of the Regulation on recycled plastic for food contact, as well as the main doubts posed to the industry by its application. For her part, Hazel O’Keeffe, from Keller & Heckman, addressed the American case in her presentation on the FDA in the regulation of recycling in contact with food. Raquel Requena, responsible for Consumer and Environmental Health and Safety at Aimplas, spoke about the role of bioassays in advising on NIAS analysis, while Eva Martínez, from Aidimme, addressed the legislation for paper and cardboard in contact with food in different countries and stressed the lack of a regulation at the European level. He also addressed the issue of plastics as a functional barrier in this type of packaging.
Marta García, from Fakolith, spoke about innovation and sustainability in varnishes and coatings certified for contact with food and beverages and reviewed the diversity of elements that can be in direct or indirect contact with food. Gerald Renner, from Cosmetics Europe, concluded with a presentation on plastic materials in the cosmetic sector in which he explained how in the absence of a specific regulation, this is based on that of food contact.