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Using VACUREMA® Technology to produce 100 percent rPET trays

"From niche to must-have." That describes how plastics recycling has evolved in recent years. Faerch also contributed to this. As a plastic packaging manufacturer and EREMA customer in Denmark, Faerch is the first company in the world to successfully integrate the recycling of european post-consumer PET household pots, tubs and tray packaging into its own production process.

Faerch is recognised as a leading manufacturer of food packaging, largely made from PET thermoforming film. Referred to as trays, they are well suited to many applications, especially in the food sector, where food safety, shelf life and a clear view of the packaged product are needed. Faerch produces trays for ready meals, fresh meat, takeaway meals and packaging for dairy products a several of its locations in Europe. They supply well-known food producers and trading companies around the world. The packaging must meet the highest quality standards for direct contact with food, and must meet special functional criteria, such as for transporting liquid food and when food is frozen or heated up in it.

A closed loop for food trays

The trays Faerch produces are fully recyclable and, depending on the PET type (CPET, MAPET or APET), are made of up to 100 percent recycled post-consumer PET (rPET). That is why Faerch is considered a pioneer in tray-to-tray recycling, also due to its cooperation with EREMA. This is because in comparison to bottle-to-bottle recycling, where the circular economy has been successfully well established for 20 years, closing the material loop of PET trays has lagged behind. "For us it was clear that with purpose-specific modification of our flexible VACUREMA® technology, tray-to-tray recycling could become just as much of a success story. Faerch was our first customer to be as convinced of this as we were," says Christoph Wöss, Business Development Manager at EREMA Group GmbH.

At Faerch's own recycling plant "CIRREC" (formerly “4PET”) in the Netherlands, PET bales obtained from collection and sorting companies throughout Europe are sorted, washed and recycled. Both post-consumer rPET flakes and pellets are supplied to packaging manufacturers and reused in the company's own production. "This currently makes us the only integrated recycler in the world capable of recycling used household PET packaging on an industrial scale and turning them back into new trays," explains Thomas Bak Thellesen, Senior Director Group Sustainability & External Affairs. He backs up this statement with some impressive figures: Trays from all over Europe are recycled to make 1.2 billion PCR PET trays per year. The aim is to quadruple the recycling capacity within the coming years. "Without any compromises in terms of food contact compliance and functional properties," as Bak Thellesen emphasises: "Quality and sustainability must go hand in hand for us, because this is the only way we can offer our customers circular packaging solutions and drive the change necessary to establish an infrastructure needed to achieve a real circular economy."

To get the PET waste it needs, Faerch offers its own buyback models to customers who are able to collect the packaging again after use, such as airlines and catering companies. "For our production, this waste is a valuable raw material that we know is of the right quality."

Published by EREMA Group 1.06.2023

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