The decontamination performance of a recycling process is measured by carrying out specially designed tests called “Challenge Tests”, which evaluate the adequacy of the planet technologies.
On these Challenge Tests, the plastics to be recycled are enriched with a range of surrogate contaminants and are then subjected to the recycling process on the plant. In the R&D plant of the Food Contact Center, a machine and a process have been set up, used to operate the contamination of plastic matrix products which will then be subjected to the recycling process by the customer who will have to validate his own plant, veryfing its efficiency, evaluating the residual presence of contaminants after the recycling phase.
A dedicated list of surrogates has not been published for all polymers; for PET, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has published a specific guideline with a list of usable substitutes, which should however be re-evaluated for other materials.
Food Contact Center partecipated in the collabprative study on articles and granules in recycled polyethylene, organized by the Italian Packaging Institute, and in some Challenge Tests conducted in collaboration with the University of Bangkok (Faculty of Agro-Industry Kasetart University).
It also conducts R&D Challenge tests on PET and other polymers such as polyolefins in its own factory, using even heavy contaminants, detectable with the LC Q TOF technique.