A consortium of organisations from the UK’s packaging, retail and recycling industries, led by Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, are to launch an in-market trial programme aimed at significantly increasing the number of black CPET trays that are recycled.
WRAP has worked with industry experts to identify a new type of black CPET tray, using alternative colourant, which sorting trials have shown to be able to be detected and separated for recycling.
Approximately 1.3bn black CPET trays are used in ready meal packaging in the UK every year. Whilst they are recyclable, the trays have proven difficult for the UK recycling industry to process as the black colour of the tray is not detectable with Near Infra Red (NIR) optical sorting equipment at plastic sorting facilities. As a result, they are usually missed and end up in landfill or being processed into energy.
The project team consists of: WRAP, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Faerch Plast, the Kent Resource Partnership, Biffa Waste Management, Recoup (RECycling Of Used Plastics Limited), and Nextek Limited.
Andrew Speck, M&S – “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”
The project team will seek to prove the effectiveness of these new trays through an in-market trial, commencing mid July, by demonstrating the ability to manufacture, distribute and recover them through household recycling collections at plastics sorting facilities.
The trays will then be reprocessed using proven decontamination technologies for assessment of the ability to manufacture them back into food grade black CPET trays, aimed at achieving a closed loop system.
A public report will be available once the trial is completed and a full review has been carried out. This will examine sorting efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, disposal cost reduction and commercial viability.
Commenting on the trial, Andrew Speck, M&S’s commercial and environmental packaging manager 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.”
Cllr Paul Barrington-King, chair of the Kent Resource Partnership said: “This important partnership project between public and private sector organisations could mean all Materials Recycling Facility operators install updated NIR technology so that the recycling of CPET trays becomes standard practice. That has to be good news for councils when it comes to MRF contract specifications and value for money to taxpayers.”