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[greenyes] food containers from recycled materials

I've done quite a bit of research on FDA compliance of recycled materials in food-contact products.
Here's way more answer than you asked for . . .
Over-simply, direct contact food packaging that contains food when purchased must be pre-approved by the FDA. YOU MUST PROVE it is SAFE, before you use it. This may also apply to some indirect food contact packaging.
The other category of food contact item is "housewares" where-in the burden of proof is shifted to after the product is used and a PLAINTIFF WOULD HAVE TO PROVE the product UNSAFE.

The first issue is "does the recycled material, and/or any possible contaminants, pose any real threat to health?" Of course, no manufacturer would want to chance harming a customer, or making them sick. The much larger concern is "could someone conceive or imagine harm of any kind theoretically caused by the use of recycled material?" Perhaps this second question is the biggest deterrent to more widespread use of recycled materials in any products designed for food use. The very real fear of a lawsuit, no matter of merit, can put any small manufacturer or innovator out-of-business. The cost of lawsuit defense is disastrous since the plaintiff is not forced to reimburse a wrongfully accused business. This also applies to a whole host of other potential products (healthcare, athletics, children's products, etc.) where the use of recycled material is summarily dismissed to avoid giving a litigation attorney frivolous lawsuit ammunition.

That being said, the FDA jurisdiction is really only applicable to containers used to hold or store food for purchase. Bottles, jars, and other packaging that is sold with food contained in them, must meet very strict guidelines and receive official pre-approval from the FDA.
There is a bit of a gray area when a product will have "food contact" in its normal usage. Temporary storage containers and serving utensils may, or may not, need pre-approval from the FDA. Obviously, there can be many variables and each product should be considered on a case-by-case basis. A legal opinion (in this case, referred to as a "housewares exemption") on a single product, from a law firm specializing in such matters, would cost between $5000 and $15,000. This would not necessarily protect you from the FDA or predatory attorneys, but it would give you a nice stack of documentation to justify your position. Another more official, and consequently, more expensive level, is to receive from the FDA a "Letter of No Objection". Here in Ohio, we have a company that went to that length in order to encourage the use of more post-consumer P.E.T. Their efforts were partially funded by a Market Development Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention (I am the vice-chairman of the ODNR-DRLP Advisory Council). So, there is now the possibility of 100% post-consumer PET blow-molded bottles!
This summer, with the housewares exemption, we manufactured 33,000 ice cream scoops for Stonyfield Farms, made entirely of their PP yogurt cups. There are lots of other items we can do as well, we're just real careful with the source of our plastic.
I'll be in touch,

On Mon, 15 Nov 2004 11:44:40 -0800, Amy Hemmert wrote:
> Hi Dan,
> Thanks for letting us know about your site. Looks like you've got
> some great products. I've got two questions I'm hoping you might be
> able to answer:
> 1. We are looking for a plastic (PE & PP) that is FDA-approved for
> food use. I see that you sell mugs made out of recycled plastic and
> that some are recycled on the outside and virgin on the inside. Do
> all the mugs have virgin plastic on the inside or do you have a
> source of  FDA-approved for food recycled plastic? We'd love to
> make the switch to recycled, but haven't been able to find any that
> can be used to make food containers.
> 2. A lot of our customers ask us about whether we have the ability
> to personalize our products for them. (We sell waste-free lunch
> kits, and many of them go to schools.) Do you have the technology
> to print on plastic containers, for example, a school name and/or
> logo? If so, how does this work, and what would it cost?
> Thanks for whatever information you can provide!
> Amy Hemmert
> Obentec, Inc.
> amy@no.address
> 831-457-0301
> ____________________________________________________________
> Find out what people are saying about Laptop Lunches at
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dan Weisenbach" <dan@no.address>
> To: "GreenYes" <greenyes@no.address>
> Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 9:32 AM
> Subject: [greenyes] need input for New Recycled Products
>> Every year we spend a great deal of time and financial resources
>> to develop and
>> manufacture new products made of recycled materials. The
>> continuing task, of course, is to
>> market and sell those products. The last couple of years have
>> been wonderfully productive
>> for us as we added more new recycled products to our line than
>> any recent time period
>> since the mid-80's and early-90's. We are in the planning stages
>> of developing more new
>> products during 2005, and we would love to have your suggestions
>> for recycled products that might interest you or your
>> constituents.
>> Our product line includes awareness and educational items
>> (promotional/advertising),
>> awards and recognition,  office products/supplies, school
>> supplies, toys, automotive
>> accessories, housewares, tools, building supplies/products (small
>> in size, not "building materials"). We primarily work with
>> recycled papers -- we print, cut, configure, assemble, bind,
>> pkg., etc. recycled plastic -- we can utilize injection molding,
>> extruding, or compression molding
>> (also recycled PET plastic converted to textiles that we can cut
>> & sew) recycled glass -- awards, vases other material ideas?
>> Please let me know if you have any suggestions!
>> Thanks,
>> Dan Weisenbach
>> Weisenbach Specialty Printing & Manufacturing, Inc.

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