Cheese in Recycled Plastic

The British retail chain Tesco is introducing new flexible plastic packaging for cheese. The test is intended to show that recycled plastic is suitable for food. The pyrolysis recycling process is used to recover the raw material.

An entire supply chain has worked together for this. The goal: to recycle plastics collected from Tesco customers into new food-quality packaging. The companies Plastic Energy, Sabic, Sealed Air and Bradburys Cheese cooperated with Tesco in carrying out the trial. The aim is to prove that flexible plastic packaging can be reused in a closed recycling loop instead of in the waste, and can be recycled several times into new plastic.

Find a closed recycling system

According to the UK Household Plastic Collection Survey, around 400,000 tons of soft plastics are used in the UK. But only just under 21,000 tons of these are collected and recycled into non-food grade material. In 2019, soft plastic recycling collection points were set up at ten Tesco stores in the southwest of England to find ways to solve this problem and create a closed loop system. The material was sent to Plastic Energy. The company converted the used packaging into oil using a special recycling process known as pyrolysis. This oil was then used by Sabic to produce new plastic granules. The pellets were then used by the packaging specialist Sealed Air to create a plastic packaging design that meets all the performance requirements of Bradburys, Tesco’s cheese supplier.

At least 30 percent recycled plastic

Seven different types of Bradburys cheese are now sold in the new packaging in Tesco stores that contain at least 30 percent recycled material from the new process. “We are removing all excessive and non-recyclable packaging from our business and will ensure everything that remains can be recycled as a part of a closed loop,” announced James Bull, Head of Packaging at Tesco. “This exciting new partnership has the potential to show that every piece of plastic we use can be recycled.”

“Creating and testing new recycling solutions and implementing them on the market requires a tight collaboration with the full value chain,” said Carlos Monreal, founder and CEO of Plastic Energy. “This first-of-a-kind partnership is only the beginning of the journey to demonstrate the benefits of advanced recycling and develop a circular system for plastics.”

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