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Faerch aims to replace hard-to-recycle black plastic in three years

Food packaging manufacturer Faerch has announced the introduction of a new product family that it says could replace all the UK’s carbon black-based colours of ready meal packaging made from Crystalline Polyethylene Terephthalate (CPET) within three years.

Faerch’s new product family is made using 80 per cent post-consumer recycled mixed-colour PET. It is near-infrared (NIR) detectable in optical sorting systems used in the UK’s recycling infrastructure, retains the same benefits as CPET and is available in all shapes and sizes.

CPET is the packaging material of choice for most ready meal producers and retailers, and its importance in ready meal packaging is expected to increase as concerns grow among experts regarding migration of aluminium packaging in hot use applications and limited recyclability of laminated pulp/board materials.

Faerch aims to replace hard-to-recycle black plastic in three years
Faerch's new product line will use at least 80 per cent post-consumer recycled mixed colour PET.
Black plastic poses problems for recycling sorting machines as the black pigment cannot be detected by NIR optical sensors, meaning the material is not separated properly from other types of polymers and can end up being sorted with the wrong plastics, proving complicated for reprocessors.

Faerch’s new product has no extra colour added to the recycled input material, resulting in a natural colour with slightly varying shades. Detectability of the trays is guaranteed, as the material has successfully passed through NIR detection in its prior life as a bottle or tray. For applications where the use of black CPET packaging is unavoidable, Faerch offers its CPET ID solution, a black tone included in the packaging that typical sorting facilities can detect.

Faerch is committed to using a high percentage of recycled content in its products – at 80 per cent it will easily exceed the 30 per cent threshold set by the new tax on recycled content in plastic packaging. For every quantity of Faerch trays purchased by a retailer, the company will source an equivalent volume of post-consumer waste locally in the UK to recycle through 4PET, its recently acquired recycling company, to be turned into new food grade trays of the same quality as those produced at Faerch’s manufacturing sites. This ensures that the same amount of plastic purchased by retailers is taken out of the market after use and helps to develop a domestic market for post-consumer plastic in the UK.

Commenting on the innovative new product range, Lars Gade Hansen, CEO of Faerch Group, said: “We very much appreciate the increased awareness for responsible packaging in the UK. It enables us to provide innovative solutions to forward thinking retailers while we all continue to benefit from the superior properties of our CPET solutions, in particular on food safety and low carbon footprint“.

Increasing attempts have been made in recent times to find a solution to the issue of recycling black plastic. A collaborative project aimed at making black plastic easily recyclable, involving recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety, was recently awarded £800,000 in grant funding by the government, while Viridor launched a project with major retailers last July.

Cross-industry Black Plastic Packaging Recycling Forum has also previously agreed a range of actions to improve recycling of the problem material, including rolling out new detectable pigments and assessing alternative sorting systems.

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