The growth in plastics recycling capacity, and the prospect of non-bottle collection and processing in future, is inspiring UK converters to look at mono-material pack, lid and label combinations.
PFF Thermoformed Packaging has launched its rPET100 pack, made entirely from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), including a high proportion of food-grade recyclate. PFF has worked with lidding and film label specialists to create an entire pack which can go into a single recycling stream.
New business development director Stephen Carr says: "We have been in touch with our local authorities and with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and there was agreement that more needs to be done to make more material available for recycling." In fact, WRAP is still assessing the viability of collecting, sorting and recycling different combinations of mixed plastics. This is in addition to PET and high density polyethylene bottles which are already widely collected. Carr explains: "We've said we're going to do this anyway."
It is unclear whether any retailers plan to take up this format. But many, including Tesco, continue to stress weight reduction rather than recyclability. The Alexipack tray from Alexir Packaging, which Tesco is using for its Healthy Living ready meals range, is 75% board laminated to clear PET outside and opaque PET inside.
Says Alexir sales director Tom Seme: "With the current UK infrastructure, that makes the pack unrecyclable."