British retail grocery giant Tesco Plc will offer fresh food packaging for meat and poultry from 95% food-safe recycled content, which is typically recovered from plastic (PET) water bottles from household waste. The packaging, dubbed “Rfresh Elite,” is from LINPAC; Tesco is working with its key supplier, Hilton Food Group, to bring the meat and poultry to market in the recycled packaging.
The packaging uses a specially designed sealant between the rigid tray and top film which reduces the amount of material required to produce the pack, making it up to 5% lighter in weight than equivalent trays and reducing the amount of waste at end-of-life.
The packaging is also fully recyclable post-consumer: the sealant avoids the need for a PE layer and makes the mono-material easier to process by recycling companies.
But the food service packaging industry – at least in the UK – faces a significant challenge in terms of getting packaging recycled at the end of the product lifecycle, even when the material is, like LINPAC’s, fully recyclable. In order to reduce packaging waste at the end of the lifecycle, manufacturers need to look not only at the material used in package creation but at the infrastructure that needs to be created after the food is consumed, says Phil Davidson, senior manager for sustainability Europe & Asia at HAVI.
“Even when packaging is able to be repurposed into new packaging and products, there is no national system to gather and recycle food service packaging,” Davidson wrote in Packaging Europe last week.
In the US, the Foodservice Packaging Institute is working to solve that problem with grants from the Foam Recycling Coalition. In February, the FRC opened its grant submission process to support increased recycling of packaging made from foam polystyrene, seeking applicants looking to start or strengthen a post-consumer foam polystyrene recycling program.
“In the past two years, the Foam Recycling Coalition has awarded nearly $225,000 in grants to communities in the United States and Canada” said Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute. “Almost one million more people can now recycle foam polystyrene directly due to these investments.”
This initiative helps fund infrastructure for the collection, processing and marketing of products made from foam polystyrene. It targets post-consumer foam polystyrene products, which includes foodservice packaging (i.e., cups, plates, bowls, clamshells, cafeteria trays) and other types of packaging, such as egg cartons; meat trays; and protective packaging (used when shipping electronics and other fragile items).