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CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND RETAIL E-SSENTIALS

Your regular update for technical and industry information

EU: Enforcement Action on Bamboo Additives in Food Contact Plastics Has Landed

JULY 2021 - HARDLINES, TOYS AND CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS

In March 20211, we informed you of the actions tackling plastic food contact materials (FCMs) containing bamboo fibres by the EU Member States. 

Between 2019 and May 2021, there were 77 notifications about such plastic FCMs reported in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Most non-compliance is related to the unauthorised use of bamboo additive as a filler and/or the mislabeling of products falsely declared as made of 100% bamboo. Despite the increase in RASFF warnings and communication on the issue, the European Commission and the Member States have noticed the illegal sales continue.

On 6 May 2021, the European Commission and the Member States and Members of the EU Food Fraud Network agreed to launch an EU enforcement action plan2 and assist Member States in ensuring that these products are no longer placed on the EU market.

The plan aims to:

  • detect and reject plastic products containing such illegal plant-based additives, which do not comply with EU rules, at the borders and do not enter the EU market;
  • recover the tax duties for plastic products that were wrongly declared;
  • remind business operators by Member States’ enforcement and competent authorities about the product’s illegality, including through the support of eCommerce platforms; and
  • raise awareness to consumers about the health risks of using these items.

Bamboo (often as powder) and other unauthorized plant-based substances have not been assessed and authorised for their use as additives in plastic FCMs. Those articles had been reported leaching high amounts of melamine and formaldehyde which may constitute a health risk. Even the manufacturer claims of the materials compliance, passing tests may be considered as misleading. Since the migration of substances goes up after repeated use, the safety assessment could be a problem. It is advised that consumers stop using these articles, and return them to the retail store or contact the online platform.

The European Commission also criticised the green claim of such materials often lack justification, which does not reflect the true nature of the product. Vegetable fibres based-additive are used as filler within a plastic matrix, making the plastic non-recyclable and the product less eco-friendly.

 

[1]  EU: Market Withdrawal of Harmful Food Contact Bamboo-Melamine Plastics, March 2021

[2]  “Bamboo-zling

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