In this context, Petcore Europe has started its Thermoforms Working Group with the aim to increase and improve the recycling of PET trays into a third life. On 19 September 2017, the WG organised a public workshop in order to give the complete value chain an update on the activities and progress in the recycling developments of PET thermoforms. After an introduction and market overview, the workshop featured sessions on "Design-for-Recycling PET Thermoforms", "Collection, Sorting & Recycling" and "Potential applications & trial outcomes".
Market estimation: PET as the preferred solution for thermoformsA market estimation - conducted by the Thermoforms Working Group and presented during the workshop - shows that PET is the preferred solution for monolayer, laminated (i.e. PET/PE for topweb sealing) and high gas-barrier (i.e. PET/PE/EVOH for modified atmosphere packaging) trays, while PS and PP are alternatives for open trays and clamshells. North European countries tend to have more mono-PET thermoforms than laminated and high gas-barrier PET ones, while it is the opposite for South Europe; however mono-PET is growing. Based on the market analysis, the following split applies:
|Mono PET||30 - 50%||400|
|Laminated PET||25 - 35%||300|
|Barrier PET||25 - 25%||300|
Design for Recycling Guidelines in PET thermoformsWithin the Petcore Europe WG, Design for Recycling Guidelines for PET thermoforms are currently being developed. The presentations of this session emphasised two main challenges that have to be considered in this context:
1.Labels that are often too big and their glues are not suitable for easy removal in recycling plants. During the workshop a specific presentation demonstrated the potential improvement in recyclability given by new combinations of glue/labels on PET trays.
2.Soaker pads that are also glued with glues that are not suitable for easy removal in recycling plants. These pads could in any case be avoided by using a different design.