Sustainability, Circular Economy • 2 min reading time

First recycled folding trays go into circulation

Maurice Wehrmeijer published on 21 October 2021

Recycled trays--1260

Euro Pool System started using the first recycled folding trays last week. This is part of an extensive recycling programme in the Benelux countries, which will see millions of new folding trays going into circulation. The used blue trays are granulated to create the main raw material for the new trays. The trays are owned and managed by logistics service provider Euro Pool System, the initiator behind this large-scale operation.

The blue, rigid trays have been used for transporting and packaging fruit and vegetables since the 1990s. Taking millions of trays out of circulation and recycling them represents an important contribution to increasing the sustainability of the supply chain of fruit and vegetables. Replacing rigid trays with folding trays will reduce the number of freight vehicle trips required to transport empty trays.

Food safety

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has certified the recycling process and monitors the process to ensure it is performed safely and in a closed system. The blue trays are processed to create a granulate. This granulate then proceeds through an automated sorting and washing process to ensure that any granules contaminated with, for example, stickers and staples are removed.

The result: a high quality raw material for the new trays. Each crate is labelled with a unique bar code, so the produced trays can be traced, and the transport movements can be tracked and optimised.

There are currently millions of rigid, blue trays in circulation, all of which will be collected and recycled. This gigantic operation will be completed in mid-2022 and fits into Euro Pool System’s strategy for making the entire fresh food supply chain in the Benelux countries more sustainable. The organisation is working on this with all its partners: from cooperatives and producers to wholesalers, retailers and processing companies.

High quality

The new folding trays are produced using a combination of the plastic granules, high quality HDPE plastic and a colourant. This guarantees a high quality. The trays are shock and heat resistant, and can withstand folding, cleaning and drying without any problems for many years. A simple mechanism enables these sturdy trays to fold up or unfold, and they can be used by automated systems.

Contribution to the circular economy

Reusing granulated trays to produce new trays contributes to optimising the circular economy within the fresh food supply chain. Euro Pool System aims to reduce CO2 emissions by combining sustainability and efficiency in the form of initiatives ranging from packaging solutions to increasing the sustainability of transport using the CoolRail train distribution network.

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Maurice Wehrmeijer

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