Even though the grocery sector accounts for around seventy percent of the packing market, a current report disclosed nearly a third of plastic packing used by UK super markets is either non-recyclable through accepted collection schemes or very difficult to recycle. This isn’t country specific – recycling processes are an issue worldwide.
Most synthetic food packaging will posses the word ‘recyclable’ on it, however this doesn’t always always indicate the wrapping will be recycled. The actual process of recycling multi-material packaging can be time intensive and costly, and is dependent heavily on customer conduct and collection segregation.
Adopting one kind of packaging
Numerous food merchandise use a mix of packaging materials, for example microwaveable food in supermarkets will use card, transparent film, and black plastic, not all of which can be recycled. Even if they could, the actual process of recycling them might require the customer to separate the materials so that the plastics can be reprocessed independently from the card. It’s not usually required to use all three materials, and food companies can effortlessly make a transition toward adopting streamlined types of packing, which use just one or two materials. This has observed many companies, including Waitrose, invest in advanced alternatives, such as its fibre-based ready dinner dish which has purpose-made coating – simplifying its packing to make it smoother to recycle whilst shifting away from the use of black plastic material.
Tackling black plastic
Black plastic in general is an area where food companies can immediately improve the sustainability of their packaging. The reason for black plastic’s use more than clear choices are primarily visual, however this type of plastic is a challenge to recycle with existing technology. The black carbon pigments can’t be recognized by the devices that sort plastics for recycling, indicating that recyclable product can only be diverted to power from trash facilities or landfill. In most cases, there is no justification that the food packaging couldn’t be converted to alternative colours, which are more easily identifiable, meaning they could be more frequently recycled, backed by the current global infrastructure.