Coles switches to recyclable and renewable meat packaging

Coles is introducing meat packaging made entirely from a combination of recycled and renewable material.

The new packaging will be used for a wide range of its Coles brand fresh meat and poultry products.

Coles bought about 121 million recyclable meat and poultry trays, in 2018, from Australian manufacturer Plantic Technologies.

Coles will use Plantic’s barrier trays, made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), along with a thin layer of Plantic’s renewable barrier material to help keep the meat fresh.

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During the recycling process, the thin plant starch layer washes away, allowing the PET tray to be recycled.

Coles director of fresh produce, Alex Freudmann, said it was an important step in Coles’ goal to become more sustainable.

“For four years, our Coles brand beef, lamb and pork mince has been packaged in recyclable trays sourced from Plantic. We now want to take the next step by transitioning a wider range of our fresh meat and poultry trays to Plantic’s new packaging, so that it is not just recyclable but also made from recycled plastics and renewable plant materials including corn,” he said.

“We understand the important role that packaging plays in maintaining food safety, supporting product longevity and reducing food waste. At the same time, we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and continue to look for opportunities to increase the content of recycled material in Coles brand packaging and improving recycling communication to customers on pack,” said Freudmann.

Plantic’s materials carry the Australian Recycling Label, which provides consumers with information on what packaging can be recycled and whether it can be recycled in kerbside recycling.

Plantic Technologies CEO Brendan Morris said the company saw the partnership with Coles as a defining opportunity to strengthen the local recycling industry.

“The problem in Australia is that there hasn’t been lot of processing of kerbside recycling done on-shore. Instead we’ve been sending it to China. As a result, there has been little investment to reprocess the waste within Australia and there’s not enough capacity here. At the same time, Australia is importing plastic into the country that can’t be recycled. These two factors combined means the waste is just piling up,” he said.

“Plantic decided that if we’re really committed to this and want to make a benefit to the environment and make a real difference then we need to start now, with Coles supporting us.”

Coles aims to make all Coles brand packaging recyclable by 2020.