A consortium of organisations from the packaging, retail and recycling industries will roll out a trial programme that aims to increase the number of black CPET trays that are recycled.
Led by Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's, the consortium also comprises WRAP, Faerch Plast, the Kent Resource Partnership, Biffa Waste Management, Recoup, and Nextek.
Every year, around 1.3 billion recyclable black trays are used in ready meal packaging in the UK. The black colour is not detectable with near infra red (NIR) optical sorting equipment at plastic sorting facilities, and hence these trays have proved difficult for the recycling industry to process.
Resource efficiency group WRAP has worked with industry experts to create a new type of black CPET tray, which sorting trials have shown can be detected and separated for recycling. Market trials will begin this month with two million new trays being rolled out across the M&S and Sainsbury's ready meals range.
Upon completion of the trial and a full review, a public report will be available, which will examine sorting efficiency, carbon footprint reduction, disposal cost reduction and commercial viability.
M&S commercial and environmental packaging manager Andrew Speck 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."
Image: Around 1.3 billion black trays are used in ready meal packaging in the UK every year. Photo: courtesy of SOMMAI/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.