5 March 2019 by Will Date

Faerch offers ‘natural’ replacement to black plastic trays

Plastic packaging manufacturer Faerch has announced the launch of a ‘natural colour’ CPET packaging material, aimed at replacing black carbon plastic in ready meal packaging.

The company is introducing a new ‘detectable’ plastic line, containing 80% post-consumer recycled mixed-colour PET. The material has no extra colour added to the recycled input material, resulting in a natural colour with ‘slightly varying’ shades, according to Faerch.

Faerch’s ‘natural’ coloured CPET

Black plastics using a ‘carbon black’ pigment can be a problem for waste management firms when they are collected in mixed recycling loads, as they cannot be detected by Near-Infra-Read (NIR) sorting machines widely used in sorting facilities.

Consequently, local authorities have been issued with advice to view the material as ‘non-recyclable’ and not to request it from households (see letsrecycle.com story).

According to WRAP, around 18,495 tonnes of black plastic was collected through kerbside recycling systems from households in the UK in 2015/16 – around 3.7% of the total plastic packaging collected during that time

The material is commonly used in ready meal packaging as it is seen as being easily mouldable, allowing for the design of a tray with more than one compartment, and can withstand high temperatures. Faerch says its new natural CPET material has the same quality as existing CPET packaging material.

The company has previously worked with Viridor as part of trials on the sorting of black plastic trays (see letsrecycle.com story).

Lars Gade Hansen, chief executive of Faerch Group, said: “We very much appreciate the increased awareness for responsible packaging in the UK.

“It enables us to provide innovative solutions to forward thinking retailers while we all continue to benefit from the superior properties of our CPET solutions, in particular on food safety and low carbon footprint“.


Faerch last month announced the acquisition of the Dutch plastics recycler 4PET Group. The company says the move will position it as “one of the world’s first integrated plastic packaging suppliers that achieves a circular economy for recycling food trays on an industrial scale.”

The company is also offering a ‘closed loop solution’ to retailers, whereby an identical quantity of the volume of Faerch trays a retailer purchases will be sourced as post-consumer waste in the UK.

Black plastic is particularly prevalent in ready meal packaging

The material will be recycled at 4PET,and used in the production of new food grade trays at one of Faerch’s manufacturing sites.

Meanwhile, other companies have brought ‘detectable’ plastic packaging products to the market more recently. In 2018, the Welsh company Colour Tone launched a black plastic NIR detectable masterbatch for polypropylene applications.

And, last month, packaging manufacturer Quinn has launched its own detectable PET food tray ‘Detecta’ using a black colour additive that is identifiable using existing NIR equipment.

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