Tesco moves to close the loop on plastic ready meal trays

The companies have confirmed that a minimum of 30% recycled tray content will be included in the new packaging

The supermarket is working with packaging manufacturer Faerch to recover plastic food tray packaging that has been used by customers and recycle and convert them back into food-grade plastic trays.

Tesco’s ready meal trays already contain up to 75% recycled content by using recycled bottle flake plastics. Now, Faerch will collect the trays from kerbside waste collection across Europe and recycle them for further use across a range of chilled ready meals.

The companies have confirmed that a minimum of 30% recycled tray content will be included in the new packaging. A phased introduction of recycled packaging will start this month across Tesco’s own-brand ready meals.

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

Back in August 2019, Tesco updated its plastics packaging strategy, outlining a framework based on the ‘4 Rs’ – removal, reduction, reuse and recycling. Soon after that, it began the process of assessing all of its plastic packaging formats and changing them in line with this hierarchy; removal should be the first port of call.

In 2021, Tesco removed 500 million pieces of plastic packaging from its own-brand lines. That brought the total number of plastic packaging pieces removed to date to 1.5 billion after one billion pieces were removed during 2019 and 2020.

In the UK, Tesco has added recycling collection points for soft and flexible plastics, which are not collected from homes by most local councils.

During the initial trials in 2020, collected plastics were used to make food-grade packaging for Tesco own-brand cheeses. Packaging formats that are recycled under the scheme include bread bags, crisp packets, salad bags and sweet wrappers.

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