In an industry-first, British grocer Tesco has begun recycling used plastic food trays back into packaging – creating a fully circular packaging solution for its range of core chilled ready meals.
The change is in collaboration with leading packaging manufacturer Faerch and will see customer-recovered PET trays – collected via European curbside waste – recycled and converted back into food-grade plastic trays.
Tesco’s Retail-owned Brand ready meal trays already contain up to 75% recycled content, predominantly from cleaner and easier-to-recycle bottle flake plastic. Through the new Tray 2 Tray by Faerch program, a minimum of 30% recycled tray content will be included in the new core chilled ready meals trays.
A phased rollout of the new trays will take place in April across Tesco’s mainstream Retail-owned Brand chilled ready meals. The collaboration will ensure that high-quality food-grade PET is kept within the supply chain, rather than being downcycled, and demonstrates that PET packaging from trays can be fully recovered and recycled at an industrial scale.
Adele Kearns, Packaging Development Manager at Tesco, said: “We are determined to close the loop on our packaging – for it to be fully recyclable and contain recycled content wherever possible. We remain committed to reducing our environmental impact, and helping our customers to do the same, as we work together to protect our planet.”
Ruth Price, Strategic Sales Manager at Faerch UK, said: “We’re delighted to launch our Tray 2 Tray by Faerch program with Tesco, an essential initiative that promotes circular food packaging in the economy, and we are committed to working with our customers to keep rigid food packaging in the economy and out of the environment. Our collaboration with Tesco is the perfect example of how material from EU waste resources can be diverted into a valuable commodity. Moving forward, our intention is to not only increase the level of tray-to-tray content but to also start taking this from local UK feedstocks”.
Tesco also works alongside suppliers to drive change across products – eliminating all hard-to-recycle material from UK packaging in 2019 – and supports industry action including the UK Plastics Pact, which tackles the impact of plastic waste.