Guidelines are to be developed by Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) with the aim of making it easier to recycle PET plastic trays.
While the use of PET trays has grown to 700,000 tonnes per year in the EU, PRE states that “none of the current recycling streams want to have PET trays in their incoming waste”.
This is because the trays have a different composition to bottles and so are not suitable for PET bottle recyclers, while mixed plastics recyclers do not want them because of their incompatibility with polyolefins.
However, PRE warned that some collection schemes are trying to push these trays into either bottle or mixed plastics recyclers.
In a statement, PRE said: “The key factor to change this market reality is to act at the design stage of this product. Industry must evolve in order to maintain and grow the market for this packaging product. Without such a change this PET market could be replaced by more resource efficient solutions.
“Thus, to overcome this situation, PRE will take responsibility and start developing recycling guidelines for PET trays. These guidelines will enable the value chain to assess the recyclability of the products which are put on the market and move towards recyclable PET trays. In a second step, separate sorting streams will have to be created to enable PET tray recycling. As some non-PET trays have similar issues, PRE will also develop guidelines for trays made of other plastics.
“As a proactive industry, the recyclers are willing to cooperate with more stakeholders to further develop these guidelines. All trays have an important packaging function, but need to adapt to recyclability requirements in order to grow in the years to come.”