GUIDELINES TO ENSURE THE RECYCLABILITY OF THERMOFORMED PET CONTAINERS
LEARN ABOUT ITS ADVANTAGES
THE PET TRAY
«Each material has key properties that make it ideal for its use»
IT IS RECYCLABLE PACKAGING
The layers that comprise the packaging are separated and the polymers are recycled to then incorporate them into new trays. Since 2009 more than 65,000 tonnes have been recycled.
IT EXTENDS THE SHELF LIFE OF FOOD
Thanks to the properties provided by the different layers, which act as a barrier for certain gases, foods are better preserved and their shelf life is extended.
IT CONTRIBUTES TO REDUCING CO2 EMISSIONS
The lightness of the packaging allows for a reduction in fuel consumption in transporting foodstuffs and optimizes distribution.
Two simple criteria in the design of the plastic food tray to guarantee its RECYCLABILITY are AVOIDING COLOUR and NON-RECYCLABLE ADHESIVES (for example polyurethane)
The PET tray is a type of recyclable packaging that allows for recycled material to be incorporated into its manufacture. Added to this major environmental advantage are other additional ones derived from their functional properties during the usage stage (lightness and preservation). The composition of PET trays varies according to the type of packaged food in order to give it the most suitable properties for its transport and preservation but, in all cases and regardless of the number of layers it comprises, the PET weight content oscillates between 90% and 100%.
PET is a very light material that allows for a large quantity of product to be packaged while using a small amount of material. This property means that the environmental impact from the transport of packaged foods is minimized. With barely 15 gr of PET it is possible to package 18 times the weight of a fresh food product. This is achieved thanks to the technological progress achieved in the engineering processes behind the manufacture of the sheet from which the tray is then produced through thermoforming.
PET trays allow foods to be packaged safety and protectively. Their high-barrier properties and their resistance to abrasion and to attack from microorganisms provide total safety in preserving packaged foods, which maintain their nutritional properties intact. With a PET tray it is possible to extend the average conservation time of a fresh food item between 50 days (cooked foods) and 90 days (dry foods) longer than if the same food item is acquired in loose form and without this type of packaging for preserving it.
Far from consuming high amounts of resources, PET is a material characterized by having achieved an excellent environmental balance in its different packaging applications, from its manufacturing phase, in which the technology has been optimized to minimize energy consumption, to its end-of-life phase, given its 100% recyclability.
Food safety is another key element in making PET trays the ideal packaging thanks to the high technological level achieved by companies in the processes of PET manufacture and recycling, in compliance with the broad European legal framework in place in this area.
Grinding of the material to obtain flakes.
Physical delamination process
Separation of PET and polyolefins.
Removal of impurities (PET colour flakes) using an optical separator.
Quality control of all batches.
End products, high-purity PET flake (90%) and PE pellets (10%).
MAIN IMPEDIMENTS TO RECYCLABILITY
Using polyurethane (PU) adhesive between layers makes it impossible to recycle the tray.
The presence of polymers of similar density to PET (such as PVC and PS) forming part of the package itself or of the bales of trays makes it very difficult to recycle because it is very complex to separate them.
Using material with colour in both the tray base and the lid drastically reduces the reuse of the bale and, while not preventing recycling, does very much limit releasing the recycled product to the market and its end applications. Main guidelines for ensuring recyclability