Asda Sustainability manager for Plastic and Packaging, Suzie Hardy, tells us more about what Asda is doing to remove, reuse and reduce plastic packaging on own brand products
The next time you’re in Asda you may notice our ready meals aisle is a bit more colourful than usual. We’ve replaced all of the black plastic trays across our range with a new material that can be recycled.
It’s a fantastic step forward. By doing this we’ll transform 775 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic into plastic widely recycled by local authorities – that’s 45 million ready meal trays!
The recyclable material used for the new trays is known as natural CPET – which is itself made out of recycled plastic bottles. Each batch is a different shade depending on the colour and quantity of bottles used, which are usually blue, green or transparent. Each tray contains up to 80% of recycled plastic.
Recycling plants that take waste from household collections have difficulty separating black plastic waste from other types of plastic waste. The plant can tell different types of waste by how quickly a beam of light bounces back off it (NIR or Near-Infrared detection) and since black plastic absorbs light the black trays can’t be seen and go undetected. Even though the black plastic trays are made from good quality plastic they end up in landfill or in an incinerator mixed in with other non-recyclable waste.
We did look at alternatives but this was the only recyclable plastic material that could withstand being heated in an oven – which is obviously a key factor in choosing a tray for a ready meal!
It’s just one of the things we’re doing as part of our Plastic Unwrapped commitment to use less plastic and recycle more.
We've also swapped the black plastic trays on our Extra Special Aberdeen Angus steaks for recyclable cardboard trays, saving more than 50 tonnes of plastic each year.
We’ve already removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic from our own brand packaging – equivalent in weight to 600 million plastic bottles. And next year we'll be running a number of exciting new trials, including refillable packaging – where customers will be able to bring their own reusable containers to store to refill.
By the end of next year, almost a third of Asda’s own brand plastic packaging will also come from recycled materials and we’re committed to making all our own brand packaging fully recyclable by 2025.