While the grocery sector accounts for about 70% of the packing market, a current document unveiled virtually a third of plastic packing used by UK super markets is either non-recyclable through accepted collection systems or fairly difficult to recycle. This isn’t country specific – recycling procedures are an issue worldwide.

Most synthetic food material will have the word ‘recyclable’ on it, but this doesn’t automatically always mean the material will be recycled. The actual process of recycling multi-material packaging can be lengthy and costly, and relies greatly on consumer behaviour and collection segregation.

Adopting one kind of packaging

Many food products utilize a mix of packaging components, for example microwaveable meals in mnarkets might use card, clear film, and black plastic, certainly not all of which can easily be recycled. Even if they could, the actual process of recycling these might require the consumer to divide the components so that the plastic materials can be reprocessed separately from the cardboard. It’s not always necessary to utilize all three components, and food companies can effortlessly make a move on the way to implementing streamlined forms of packing, which utilize just one or two components. This has seen many companies, including Waitrose, invest in advanced alternate options, such as its fibre-based ready meal dish which includes purpose-made finishing – simplifying its packing to make it easier to recycle while moving away from the usage of black plastic.

Tackling black plastic

Black plastic in general may be a area where food companies can instantly improve the sustainability concerning their packaging. The reason for black plastic’s use more than clear choices are primarily visual, but this form of plastic may be a obstacle to recycle with current technology. The black carbon pigments can not be detected by the devices that sort plastics for recycling, meaning that recyclable product can only be redirected to power from waste facilities or landfill. In most instances, there may be no justification that the food packaging couldn’t be switched to alternative colours, which are more easily identifiable, meaning they could be more frequently recycled, supported by the existing global infrastructure.