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The rapid and creative evolution of circularity for ready meal packaging

If something evolves or you evolve it, according to Collins English Dictionary, it gradually develops over a period of time into something different and usually more advanced.

However, evolution has become increasingly rapid and creative in the case of dual-ovenable ready meal trays, as exemplified by the aptly named Evolve by Faerch.

The Evolve by Faerch range of natural rigid CPET plastic trays is an important step forward in food packaging.

Evolve by Faerch was introduced in 2019 as a solution to the challenge of black tray recycling. As carbon black pigments in packaging cannot be easily "seen" by recycling sorting systems, unnecessary plastic often ends up as waste in landfill or incineration.

However, the multi-coloured Evolve by Faerch range, made from recycled bottles and trays, is detectable using existing sorting systems and can be collected kerbside in the UK.

Perfect complementary product

At KM Packaging, we have a wealth of experience working with food manufacturers worldwide on lidding films for Evolve by Faerch trays since they were launched. And the perfect complementary product for Evolve by Faerch trays is our K Peel range of specialty PET-based heat-sealable lidding films.

This highly versatile range delivers excellent functionality, including:

  • Suitable for microwave, conventional oven, hot-fill, or pasteurisation.
  • Available transparent or opaque.
  • Suitable for chilled, frozen or ambient conditions.
  • Weld, hot and cold peel options.
  • Antifog versions available.
  • Available with high barrier properties for MAP application.
  • Improved consumer convenience and safety; tamper evidence, easy-open features.

Alan Lockhart, KM Packaging's Business Unit Director, said: "The Evolve by Faerch tray, plus K Peel lidding film, is the perfect solution for any chilled and frozen ready meal and convenience product application."

This is reinforced by Faerch who have said: "Evolve by Faerch allows us to offer packaging solutions made from 100% recycled content, with no compromises on quality, which we recycle back into new food trays.”

We also provide lidding film with post-consumer recycled content (PCR). This is particularly important in the UK, where the Plastic Packaging Tax on the production and import of plastic packaging with less than 30% PCR comes into force in April 2022.

Essential contribution to achieving targets

There is a growing global recognition that increasing amounts of food waste and carbon emissions are amongst the biggest threats to society.

Flexible packaging has a part to play in combating the problems, not least because it helps extend the shelf life of products and creates a smaller environmental footprint compared to alternative packaging types like paper, glass, and metal.

It requires less energy to manufacture and transport, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage.

Flexible packaging also uses less water in manufacturing and has a high product-to-package ratio. And, flexible packaging materials like PP* and PET can be recycled directly back into food packaging offering the opportunity for true circularity.

Therefore, flexible packaging makes an essential contribution to achieving national targets, including those set out by the UK Plastics Pact. The pact brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain along with the Government and other organisations to tackle the scourge of plastic waste.

Its aim is to create a circular economy for plastics, capturing their value by keeping them in the economy and out of the natural environment. And its targets for 2025 include:

  • 100% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • 70% of plastics packaging effectively recycled or composted.
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

Resource-efficient circular economy

To achieve the goals of the Plastics Pact, drive forward recyclability and sustainability, and continue the evolution of flexible packaging, key areas considered to require focus are:

  • An increase in the scope and range of materials collected at kerbside or by return-to-store schemes.
  • Significant investment in the sorting and recycling infrastructure and technology.
  • An education programme to overcome some of the myths around plastics, challenging some of the greenwashing that is confusing consumers.
  • More informed design choices, including the selection of material, coatings, size, shape, inks, and adhesives.

At the same time, the evolution of flexible packaging must continue to follow the initiatives in rigid plastics by being more recyclable and circular through greater creativity and innovation.

* https://www.nextek.org/project/food-grade-recycled-pp

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