A formidable team formed by a high-end retailer, a premium food manufacturer, an innovative fiber material producer and a food packaging specialist who joined forces to find a plastic-replacing, sustainable solution for ready meal trays now say they have done just that.
Used in significant quantities every day, conventional meal trays tend to be black and difficult to recycle. Waitrose, who made a commitment to move out of black plastic by the end of 2019, collaborated on the development of a new type of tray with food packaging expert Huhtamaki.
The retailer has now launched its Italian ready meal range in the new fibre-based tray – called Fresh - which is suited for both microwave and regular ovens. The trays are packed at Saladworks and the fibre used as the base material comes from the Swedish forest company Södra. The trays can be recycled, and they are also
"We have been testing the new trays since May 2018 and have received very positive feedback from our customers,” said Nikki Grainge, Packaging Development Manager from Waitrose & Partners in the UK. Grainge continues.
Fresh trays are made from all natural materials. The wood fibre comes from certified, sustainable Nordic forests. This means that per every tree cut down, three more trees are planted.
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.