Waitrose introduces multicoloured recycled plastic for ready meals

Waitrose is moving to multicoloured recycled trays for its ready meals as it bids to eliminate its use of unrecyclable black plastic by the end of the year.

The colour of the new trays will vary depending on the recycled plastic – predominantly mixed PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and other containers – that has gone into producing them.

Waitrose & Partners said the new packaging is unlikely to be the same colour twice, and will range from pink and red tones to shades of green and blue following its introduction over the next fortnight.

The change in production will mean the trays are more widely recyclable while the retailer continues to replace single use plastic, and will save 500 tons of black plastic going to landfill, it said.

It comes after the supermarket recently launched home compostable packaging for its Italian ready meals, replacing black plastic with a fibre-based tray.

The majority of black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon pigments which cannot be picked up by widely-used recycling systems.

As a result, black plastic packaging can commonly end up in landfill.

Karen Graley, packaging manager at Waitrose & Partners, said: “This is an exciting example of packaging innovation that helps us move even more ready meals out of hard-to-recycle black plastic into a rainbow of recycled content that can be recycled again and again.”

Earlier this year, the grocer launched a trial allowing customers to fill up their own containers with products ranging from pasta and wine to washing up liquid.

The scheme provided a dedicated refill zone with dispensers for a range of products, as well as the UK’s first supermarket “pick and mix” for frozen fruit including mango, strawberries and pineapple.