Food packaging is an important source that needs to be eliminated to reduce plastic pollution on a global scale. In addition, food packaging contains hazardous chemicals that can migrate into food and affect human health, or bioaccumulate in the land or marine environment.
Concrete action is urgently needed to provide viable alternatives to these problematic plastics that can be harmful to human health and the environment and also compromise recyclability and the possibility of a Circular Economy.
The Food Packaging Forum and the ChemForward initiative have joined forces in a one-year integrated project to reduce environmental impacts and improve chemical safety and protection of human health in food packaging through a cooperative science-based platform to better inform industry and brands’ decision making and practice. The project aims to guide manufacturers towards better alternatives and the choice of safe chemistry as the basis for circularity.
Both organizations acknowledge that the ultimate goal is indeed to REDUCE the use of single-use food packaging and disposable food services ware and shift towards reuseable options, as these are more environmentally friendly. But in settings where this is not immediately possible, it is wise to focus on the elimination of well-known hazardous chemicals from such products to limit human and environmental exposures, while not compromising on other sustainability considerations. While continuing to call for a decline in the use of such packaging, the project helps to encourage safer and more circular material flows.
• Develop leadership on chemicals in food packaging in retail, food, and food packaging industry: voluntary commitments by front-runner brand owners and suppliers to phase out use of hazardous food contact chemicals
• Provide industry with alternative safer chemicals that can be used as drop-in during the phase out of hazardous food contact chemicals, vetted by a science-based process developed by ChemFORWARD
• Enable procurement decision making that integrates environmental sustainability criteria with chemical safety and human health considerations
• Launch a website for the initiative, Scorecard, and Restricted Substances List screening tool.
• Establish stakeholder group that collectively and collaboratively “runs” the scorecard .
• Recruit membership that is open to anyone .
• Host a launch event January 2021 for beta-version of the tool
• Publish ~25 safer alternatives to high priority chemicals of concern on the ChemFORWARD for Food Packaging portal
• Host a virtual membership conference mid-2021: engage more stakeholders.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy and Google’s Circular Economy Lead, are initially supportive of the pilot, and,when deemed appropriate and relevant, can contribute by providing access to their network to promote the tool.
An independent project of the non-profit Healthy Building Network, ChemFORWARD is a value-chain collaboration working to advance safer chemistry in product design and manufacturing by expanding access to verified, actionable chemical hazard data and alternatives.
Healthy Building Network works to reduce toxic chemical use, minimize hazards, and eliminate exposure, especially to those chemicals of concern deemed unnecessary or fail to improve product performance. It promotes the development of affordable green chemistry solutions that support a healthy, successful, circular economy.
The Food Packaging Forum Foundation is a science communication organisation. The Food Packaging Forum provides independent and balanced information on issues related to food packaging and health. In doing so the Food Packaging Forum addresses all its stakeholders, including business decision makers, regulators, media and communication experts, scientists and consumers.