Flexible film – including lidding film – is not collected for recycling by the majority of local authorities in the UK.
The recommendations are to remove the film from the tray before recycling. The lidding film should be disposed in general waste. That waste is generally sent to landfill.
The difficulty is in sorting and processing flexible film. It is too flimsy for processing at the MRF (Material Recycling Facility). When these thin plastic films enter a conventional MRF, they can seriously harm the efficient operation of plant and machinery. The composition of films and their high tensile strength means that such materials can quickly become wrapped or tangled around moving or revolving machinery.
When it comes to trays, consumers have clear preferences:
- Easy opening without resorting to knives, scissors, or teeth.
- Consumers prefer to fully open the pack. For large and / or sliced foods, a full opening is not just handy, it’s essential.
- Secure reclosing. When a partial used pack goes back into the cupboard or fridge, it is good to know that the tray lid will stay closed.
- Not to have to repack in cling film, foil, or tupperware boxes. It would be much easier if the original packaging was suitable.
The Brand Owner
Much work goes into the design of packaging. We know! We also feel your pain when the consumer rips open the tray and uses a sandwich bag / cling film / foil / etc., to put it back in the fridge.
While the loss of branding can be frustrating, the loss of allergen information or the use-by date can have far more serious consequences.
It is vital that any new technology is compatible for the packing lines. Line speeds are critical and any impact on speeds will have a significant impact on productivity.
Downtime & stoppages are also critical to avoid. The one thing worse than a slow line is a stopped line.
Sealing consistency and sealing temperatures are key and any solution needs to be compatible.
The solution – Recover
Working with OPRL( On-pack Recycling Label) and the recycling industry, the ReCover technology was developed to allow lidding films to remain attached to the tray. When the tray and the film are both PET, and the lid remains attached to the tray, it is effectively a mono PET box.
ReCover is a custom made split laminate of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The mono layers are bonded by a FDA approved adhesive. The bottom layer is designed to maximise the opening within the inner profile of the tray, this layer is permanently welded to thermoformed- mono-apet or a pre-formed aPET or cPET tray. On opening the pack the top layer will separate from the bottom layer by following the designed opening lines.
ReCover will allow the consumer to open the tray easily and smoothly. The cut that creates the opening will follow the shape of the tray and allow the consumer to have full access to the contents. A small lip of film remaining attached to the flange of the tray and this will allow the lidding film to be reclosed.
When opened, the adhesive will remain on the film that is peeled away from the tray. This will help ensure minimal contamination from the food contents and will help with the reclosing. The adhesive has been developed to ensure smooth opening as well as secure reclosing. Another feature of the adhesive is its excellent clarity.
The base layer has been designed to be extremely thin. This optimises line speeds and sealing temperatures.