A consortium of big-name companies from the packaging, retail and recycling industries have come together with WRAP to launch an in-market trial of a new type of plastic ready-meal trays.
The group, led by Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, is made up of WRAP, Faerch Plast, the Kent Resource Partnership, Biffa, RECOUP, and Nextek Limited.
According to the group, 1.3 billion black CPET trays are used in ready meal packaging in the UK every year. Although they are recyclable, the trays have proven difficult for the UK recycling industry to process as the traditional black colour of the tray is not detectable with Near Infra Red (NIR) optical sorting equipment. As a result, they are usually missed and end up in landfill or being processed into energy.
WRAP has worked with industry experts (coordinated by Nextek) to develop a new type of black CPET tray which uses a different dye that can be detected and separated for recycling, trials have found.
The next stage of the trial will see approximately two million of the new CPET trays, manufactured by Faerch Plast, used in the ready meals range at M&S and Sainsbury’s across stores in the south east of England. Biffa will then use reprogrammed detection technology to sort the new trays when they are returned for recycling.
The trays will then be reprocessed to asess the possibility of them being manufactured back into food grade black CPET trays, in a closed loop system. The trial will begin in mid-July and a review will be released when it is finished.
Andrew Speck, commercial and environmental packaging manager at M&S, said: “This trial highlights what can be achieved when all the relevant companies and bodies work together – all of us on the project team anticipate this will lead to a significant step forward for plastic recycling and progress for closed loop systems. We look forward to sharing the findings of the trial in the near future.”
Claire Shrewsbury, WRAP’s packaging programme area manager, added: “WRAP welcomes the opportunity to trial the use of detectable black colourants in the M&S and Sainsbury’s product range to validate its true potential in-market.
“After four years of development work to improve the detectability and recycling of black packaging, it is great to see cross-sector engagement that allows us to trial its effectiveness in the real world. WRAP looks forward to the trial and its results, and considers this a great step toward enabling closed loop recycling.”