Tesco PET tray

Tesco and Faerch have developed a closed-loop recycling solution that ensures the secondary plastic packaging used to transport and hold products on Tesco shelves is retained by the food packaging industry and recycled back into new food-contact primary packaging.

Until recently, PET shelf-ready packaging, which is widely used by UK supermarkets to transport products, was used once and downcycled into non-food applications.

Now through a new ‘tray-to-tray’ initiative, in what is claimed to be an industry first, Tesco’s secondary PET will be collected by Faerch and through its advanced recycling process used to make new, food-contact PET pots, tubs and trays.

Cut fruit set to benefit

Packaging for Tesco’s own-brand cut fruit, selected yoghurts and meat will be guaranteed to contain 30 per cent rPET that originated in Tesco stores. To achieve this, Tesco will require all its own-brand and branded suppliers to use food contact-approved PET for shelf-ready packaging.

With ever-increasing demand for PET bottle flake, the recycling setup in Tesco stores provides a solution in addressing the shortfall in recycled PET availability, the supermarket explained.

Both companies have signed up to a multi-year supply agreement.

'Improved circularity'

William Guest, sustainable packaging manager at Tesco, said: “Wherever we can, we remove or reduce packaging, but where it is needed we want to improve circularity to make our packaging as sustainable as possible.

'One way we can do that is by ensuring packaging that meets food-contact requirements remains within the food packaging sector, being recycled back into food contact packaging. This collaboration with Faerch will ensure that each year 2,000 tonnes of PET is recycled to make new Tesco packaging that otherwise would have been downcycled into non-food applications.”

The initiative is part of Tesco's 4Rs strategy to tackle the impact of plastic waste - to remove packaging where it can, reduce it where it can't, reuse more and recycle what's left.