Tesco Collaboration Recycles Thermoformed PET from Tray-to-Tray

This circular program includes curbside collection of thermoformed PET trays and sortation for this specific material to be recycled and funneled into future thermoformed tray applications at Tesco.

The Tray 2 Tray by Faerch partnership will affect all Tesco’s core range of ready meals.
The Tray 2 Tray by Faerch partnership will affect all Tesco’s core range of ready meals.

In what it calls an industry first, 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 thermoformed packaging supplier Faerch and will see customer-recovered PET trays—collected via European curbside waste—recycled and converted back into food grade plastic trays.

Tesco’s ready meal trays already contain up to 75% recycled content, predominantly from cleaner and easier-to-recycle PET 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.

“We are determined to close the loop on our packaging—for it to be fully recyclable and contain recycled content wherever possible," says Adele Kearns, packaging development manager at Tesco. "We remain committed to reducing our environmental impact, and helping our customers to do the same, as we work together to protect our planet.”

A phased rollout of the new trays will take place in April across Tesco’s core own brand chilled ready meals. The collaboration will ensure that high quality food-grade PET is kept within the supply chain, rather than being down-cycled, and demonstrates that PET packaging from trays can be fully recovered and recycled at an industrial scale.

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.

Faerch’s PET tray recycling plant, Cirrec, takes used post-consumer food trays and recycles them back into new food trays that it says are of of the same quality and in an infinite number of cycles.

 The amount of post-consumer recycled content in food packaging is a key indicator for sustainability and circularity, and consumers and legislators expect full transparency. Faerch uses independent third-party auditing to verify pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled content levels in food packaging, allowing for full transparency of the packaging content through certification.

“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," adds Ruth Price, strategic sales manager at Faerch UK. "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”.

The Tray 2 Tray by Faerch partnership will affect all Tesco’s core range of ready meals. Rollout of new recycled trays being used in products will commence from April 2023, and be completed by the end of Summer 2023. PW


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