Lighter food trays produced using less crude oil

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The food industry makes extensive use of food trays, from fruit and vegetable packaging to ready meals. Current food trays are made of virgin polypropylene which, when no longer useful, finds its way into landfill or incineration. rPET-FOAM has piloted an alternative to the current trays on offer which is lighter, uses less crude oil and can be reused an indefinite number of times.

The project now intends to go into greater production.

Fewer raw materials, lighter to transport

A carbon footprint of around 85 % less than current alternatives, lighter therefore cheaper to transport, recycled multiple times – rPET foam food trays are attracting industry attention. Over seven million rPET foam trays have been sold to three customers alone: LSG sky chefs catering GmbH, Fresh & Pack Services BV, and Fernholz GmbH.

“The benefits speak for themselves”, says project coordinator Dr. Ted O’Keeffe. “They are 100 % recyclable and don’t use the 22 barrels of crude oil per-tonne-produced that conventional trays need.”

All round benefits

The project consortium shows that companies using the new packaging will reduce their carbon footprint by 1.41 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of trays, versus the emissions produced by conventional virgin polypropylene trays.

The contracts awarded to the project so far have bought in a revenue of over €398 000. Since the end of the project, one technical position has been created in the R&D Department, one Technical Position in the Planning Department and four new technical positions in the project’s Extrusion Department. This brings the total new technical positions to six.

“We expect to continue creating new technical positions over the coming 18 - 24 months, and would hope to exceed the estimated fifteen positions,” explains Dr. O’Keeffe, based at Holfeld Plastics Limited.

Holfeld rPET Foam trays won Gold, in the Greenstar Sustainable Award at the Starpack Industry Awards, U.K, in 2014. They were also finalists in the Lion’s Lair competition at the Packaging Innovations Show, U.K.

The project has been funded through the CIP Eco-Innovation programme which ran until 2013. New funding opportunities are available under Horizon 2020's SME Instrument and the LIFE programme.

Picture: An example of a rPet food tray. © Holfeld Plastics Ltd.

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