Recycled materials in food packaging

Recycled materials in food packaging and the risk of contamination by toxic chemicals - an integrated approach to combine the goals for food safety and circular economy

  • Period: 2022-01-01 – 2024-12-31
  • Finansiär: Formas


Ambitious societal goals are striving towards both a circular economy and a non-toxic environment. In some cases, these goals are contradictory. E.g., increased use of recycled materials in food packaging may be associated with an increased risk of hazardous chemicals in the packaging, which could potentially contaminate the food. To achieve both these goals, we need to develop strategies, both from a technical and organizational point of view, to ensure that recycled materials can be used in food packaging without increasing the risks of exposing the population to hazardous chemicals.

In this project, experts in waste research, packaging and toxicology will identify potential goal conflicts between a circular economy and a non-toxic environment, in the area of food packaging. Food packaging materials and barrier materials will be evaluated in the laboratory to study the presence of hazardous chemicals in recycled materials and how barrier materials can be used to ensure that such compounds do not contaminate the food. The current legislation and regulatory system will be mapped, and the strategies used by important industry actors will be studied. By synthesizing the knowledge generated, we will identify and suggest strategies that can be implemented to achieve both these societal goals in parallel. The project will be conducted in closed collaboration with important industrial stakeholders and result in scientific publications, policy brief papers and a workshop.

Keywords: circular economy, food packaging, food safety, recycling, toxic chemicals.

The projekt is part of the research initiative Waste values

Projektledare: Sebastian Abrahamsson, Docent Johan Lundqvist (SLU), Dr Kristina Wickholm (RISE)