New fiber-based ready-meal trays from Huhtamaki to replace black plastic

New fiber-based ready-meal trays from Huhtamaki to replace black plastic

May 24, 2019
Marcia González

Huhtamaki has developed a new fiber-based tray, Fresh, for UK supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners’ Italian ready meal range

This week, Waitrose & Partners launched a new Italian ready meal range in an innovative fiber-based tray suited for both microwave and regular ovens. The new trays, known as ‘Fresh’, are manufactured by the Finnish food packaging specialist Huhtamaki, packed at the Leicestershire, UK-based Saladworks and the fiber used as the base material comes from the Swedish forest company Södra. The trays can be recycled and are also certified for home composting.

“We have made a commitment to move out of black plastic by the end of 2019,” confirmed Nikki Grainge, packaging development manager from Waitrose & Partners in the UK. “We have been testing the new trays since May 2018 and have received very positive feedback from our customers,” she continues. “Now with the current launch on Italian range moving to the new tray, we’ll be able to move nearly nine million meals out of black plastic.”

“The project started already in 2016 with the aim to find alternative food packaging for trays made from black plastic, most often CPET,” added Steve Davey, project manager from Huhtamaki. “The reason to avoid this material is not only its fossil origin but also because it is problematic to recycle due to the detection systems used in end-of-life material separation.”

An important accelerator was the EU’s Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking program for research and innovation, securing the initial funding and helping build the core team. The team wanted to spearhead the new concept in the UK, which is one of the most significant markets for ready meals in Europe.

“Demand for sustainable alternatives is increasing from both manufacturers and customers,” explained Catrin Gustavson, head of Innovation & New business at Södra. “For Södra, the collaboration in the Fresh project offers an opportunity to learn more about how we can use our bio-based raw materials as an alternative to fossil packaging in such an important area of use as food packaging.”

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