EU groups publish guidelines on designing PET trays for recycling

New guidelines released on Dec. 3 by Brussels-based Petcore Europe and Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) show that properly designed packaging, separate collection, good sorting and recycling of PET trays are the way toward circularity and reflect current state-of-the-art recycling technology.

PET tray for meat
Image courtesy Petcore Europe.

Trays made out of PET sheet are ideal for numerous applications: Fresh food and dairy, blister packaging for durable goods and other consumer products and medical packaging, providing great performance in transparency and improving the shelf life of products, said a joint release by Petcore Europe and PRE.

PET is “the polymer champion in circularity” and PET trays are already great performers in terms of use of recyclates, said the information. In the EU market, PET-based trays contain, on average, around 55% of recycled plastics, and this is just a first step toward circularity.

According to Petcore Europe and PRE, there is a growing trend in the collection of PET trays for specific recycling activities; however, more work must be done. Besides separate collection and proper sorting of trays and other PET sheet-based products, design for recycling is a major tool to boost circularity.

To extend the success of PET bottles and high recycling rates in Europe, Petcore Europe and PRE have published the "Design for Recycling Guidelines for PET Trays," noting that “clear transparent trays can be recycled, even in food applications.” The guidelines are available on the Petcore Europe and PRE websites, and have been developed by the PET Thermoforms Working Group under Petcore Europe. The guidelines will be implemented soon in the PRE RecyClass tool.

Petcore Europe is open to suggestions for improving the document and welcomes individuals interested in joining the working group focused on improving the sustainability of PET-based trays.

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