Plastic bales with PET monolayer trays made at Copenhagen test sorting facility

Partnership for circular food trays

Partnership for circular food trays


More than half of all plastic waste collected at the households in Copenhagen consist of food packaging. Unfortunately, only a very small part of this material is recycled back into new food packaging. Most of the material is downcycled into products, which are not suitable for food contact. This means that a substantial part of the plastic packaging consumed in Copenhagen must be regularly replaced by new packaging products made from virgin materials. This is not a circular solution.

In order to improve this situation, moving towards a more circular production and consumption of plastic packaging, Copenhagen has established a Partnership for Circular Food Trays which includes seven leading stakeholders from across the value chain. The partnership is based on six, joint development goals:

  1. Close the loop for plastic food tray recycling in Copenhagen
  2. Endorse food packaging designs, which can be recycled into new food packaging
  3. Develop and implement technical sorting solutions for carbon black food packaging
  4. Encourage source separation of plastic waste by the citizens
  5. Minimize expensesrelated to the recycling of food packaging from the plastic waste
  6. Contribute to the prerequisites for a future producer responsibility scheme for food packaging

Tubs and trays comprise about 1/3 of the total quantity of plastic waste collected at the households in Copenhagen. Many tubs and trays are designed in a way, which make them impossible to recycle into new tubs and trays. They are made from multilayer materials (e.g. PET/PE) or from a type of polymer, which cannot be rinsed and sufficiently cleaned. However, tray-to-tray recycling is a reality for monolayer PET-trays.

Partners for this project include: Amager Resource Center, REMA 1000, Faerch, Danish Crown, IHP Systems, COOP, and the City of Copenhagen.