Euro Pool System, logistics provider of reusable packaging in the European fresh supply chain, started using its first recycled folding trays in mid-October. This project is fully in line with the group’s CSR policy and part of a general trend in favour of recycling but also of the circular economy in UK. Recent figures* show that UK recycling rate increases 1.2%, reaching 46% of households waste in 2019. A new report** by ReLondon and Circle Economy highlights the real opportunities to cut these damaging emissions by accelerating more sustainable food practices adopting more circular approaches.
Euro Pool System has based its business model on the circular economy for over 25 years. In its CSR report “Together towards a circular economy”, the Euro Pool group announces a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% per rotation by 2025. Taking millions of trays out of circulation and recycling them represents an important contribution to improving the sustainability of the fruits and vegetables supply chain.
This initiative is based on an extensive recycling program and involves the introduction of new recycled folding trays, made from the used rigid blue trays that have started to be replaced by Euro Pool System since February. These rigid blue trays have been used for the transport and packaging of fruit and vegetables since the 1990s. By switching from rigid trays to folding trays, the number of freight vehicle trips required to transport empty trays will be significantly reduced. (Folded trays take up 4 times less space than rigid trays).
There are currently still millions of blue rigid trays in circulation, all of which will be collected and recycled. This gigantic operation will be completed by mid-2022 and fits into Euro Pool System’s strategy to make the entire fresh food supply chain in the Benelux countries more sustainable. The company is working on this with all its partners: from cooperatives and producers to wholesalers, retailers and processing companies.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has certified the recycling process and certifies that it is performed safely and in a closed loop. The blue trays are processed to create a granulate which then proceeds through an automated sorting and washing process to ensure that any granules contaminated with, for example, stickers and staples are removed. This produces a high-quality raw material for new trays. All trays produced feature a unique barcode, so the transport stream can thus be tracked and optimised.
The new folding trays are produced from a combination of HDPE plastic granules and a colorant that guarantees high quality. The trays are shock and heat resistant. They can be folded, cleaned and dried without any problems for many years. A simple mechanism enables these sturdy trays to be folded or unfolded, and they can be used by automated systems.
Contribution to the circular economy
Reusing granulated trays to produce new ones contributes to optimise 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 optimised packaging solutions to increasing transport sustainability through the CoolRail train distribution network.