CIRCPET circular PET tray

CIRCPET – Circular PET trays for perishable food applications

Packaging is crucial to preserve and protect food that we are using daily. To ensure these qualities, PET trays are often used. However, they have been difficult to recycle. CIRCPET aims to make full recycling, transparent and economically competitive trays possible.

In short:

  • Tested and validated fully circular PET tray for (food) packaging
  • New design with improved recyclability, including developing sealing layers
  • Optimal cost-effectiveness in converting post-use trays into homogenous high quality rPET

Destined to grow, difficult to recycle

The market for PET trays is vast and rapidly growing, making them an essential part of the food supply chain. However, PET trays are currently difficult to recycle due to mixed materials and contamination. As the demand for recycled PET (rPET) in bottles increases, the availability of rPET for trays decreases. This creates an urgent need for the development of a closed-loop system specifically for PET trays.

This project aims to address this challenge by creating a fully circular PET tray solution that meets market demands while minimizing environmental impact.

Achieving circular PET trays

The project brings together multiple parties from the PET tray supply chain together with knowledge institutions. Together 100% circular PET trays will be developed. The project includes the creation of tested and validated circular PET trays that can be used as packaging for perishable food. This also includes films, lids, and labels that are easy to be removed or washed off the packaging. By focusing on mono-PET and limiting the presence of other compounds, the redesigned PET trays should be easier to separate and recycle. All of this should happen at a competitive price and quality.

How this will affect food packaging

Achieving a successful redesign of PET trays will contribute to maintaining valuable carbon in the plastic value chain. This results in a decrease of crude oil demand and less CO2 emissions from end of life incineration. The environmental benefit could be substantial, as tray-to-tray recycling is accompanied by the reduction of a waste stream that now amounts to approximately 900 kilotons per year, which is roughly equal to 3.5 million tons of CO2 emissions in Europe.

Stay involved in our quest for circularity

Join us in in our journey to sustainable packaging by staying up-to-date on project highlights on our LinkedIn page. Explore the Circular Plastics Initiative for more projects, and be a part of the movement towards a greener future.

This is a project of the Circular Plastics Initiative, co-founded by ISPT and DPI.

Acknowledgement & partners

The project is partially funded by TKI Groene Chemie en Circulariteit