Tesco Plc has partnered with key supplier, Hilton Food Group, and fresh food packaging manufacturer LINPAC, to maximise the recyclability potential of its plastic fresh food packaging in support of the recycling industry.
The three companies have worked together to bring the lightweight LINPAC Rfresh® Elite plastic pack for meat and poultry to Tesco shelves. The unique pack is manufactured from in excess of 95% food-safe recycled content, which is typically recovered from plastic (PET) water bottles from household waste.
Further to this, the Elite pack follows good practice for recycling guidelines, being fully recyclable post-consumer. Unlike other designs on the market, the novel pack features a specially designed sealant between the rigid tray and top film, which avoids the need for a PE layer and makes the mono-material easier to process by recycling companies.
The process is the same as that used to recycle clear plastic water bottles, meaning that the resulting crystal clear recycled plastic (rPET) can re-enter the recycling chain to create closed-loop recycling and ultimately, contribute to a circular economy.
Importantly, the unique Elite sealant reduces the amount of material required to produce the pack, which considerably reduces its carbon footprint. Up to 5 per cent lighter in weight than equivalent rPET trays, the pack has been developed in line with the LINPAC Project LIFE (Lightweighting for Excellence) initiative.
Dr Mark Caul, technical manager for packaging at Tesco, commented: "As a food business, our long-term success depends on the health of the natural environment and our customers tell us this is important to them too.
"These trays represent a step change for the packaging industry by being much lighter, with the added bonus of making recycling easier for local authorities. This is a landmark innovation and a clear demonstration of our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment we live in."
LINPAC supplied c.84m Elite packs to Hilton UK and Ireland in 2016. Tesco’s adoption of the lightweight Rfresh Elite solution has led to an overall reduction in plastic material being used and has created an end-market use for over 1300 tonnes of plastic post-consumer waste. This figure is set to rise in 2017 with further Tesco packaging projects on the horizon.
RECOUP CEO, Stuart Foster, recognises the important work done by Tesco, adding: "We’re fully behind the use of lightweight, high recycled content plastic packaging solutions in Tesco stores that follow best practice design guidelines to maximise recyclability potential. It facilitates the ease of recycling for both the Tesco customer and the wider recycling chain and drives us closer to achieving a circular economy."
LINPAC has supported Tesco with a number of sustainable packaging development initiatives as a credible partner in the industry. In 2016, Tesco and Cargill joined forces with LINPAC to launch a poultry split pack, which helped to aid consumer portion control by keeping half of the pack sealed for later use.
LINPAC is committed to manufacturing resource efficient, cost effective packaging that contributes to a reduction in food waste and has a number of new sustainable packaging innovations ready for launch in 2017.