Nineteen New World and PAK’nSAVE stores throughout the country have been trialling a great piece of Kiwi ingenuity, a recyclable plastic meat tray, meaning the environmentally unfriendly polystyrene tray, which is commonly seen across supermarkets, days are well and truly numbered.
Creating a suitable alternative to the useful but hard to dispose of polystyrene trays has been a long running global environmental challenge.
Currently the problem remains that literally hundreds of millions of polystyrene trays are sent to landfill every year after being in use for about one week. Up until now there’s been no real alternative but to landfill the used product as polystyrene is not accepted via kerbside schemes.
According to Mike Sammons, Sustainability Manager, Foodstuffs New Zealand Ltd the business decided to ask itself – Could we find a truly workable, sustainable alternative to the ‘destined for landfill’ foam meat trays?
“Any replacement product needs to look better, work just as well, be available at the same cost and be 100% recyclable at kerbside,” says Sammons. “But we are determined to listen to our customers who have been clear in telling us it’s time to move towards packaging that is more environmentally friendly.”
After two years of product development, the team at New World and PAK’nSAVE think they might have cracked it says Mike Sammons,
“Our packaging partner, Alto Packaging, developed, designed and manufactured a recyclable plastic tray to our specifications, that is currently being trialled in 19 New World and PAK’nSAVE stores around the country,” says Sammons. “The meat tray ticks all the right boxes in terms of sustainability and performance and furthermore it’s made right here by one of New Zealand’s leading rigid plastic packaging companies.”
Initial results from the trial are looking very promising with 88% of customers rating the overall performance of the packs as better than the traditional polystyrene packs, and a further 10% of customers rating performance on par with the traditional polystyrene packs.
Sample customer feedback has been extremely positive with the below comments capturing general customer sentiment;
- “can put in the recycle bin which is much more convenient”
- “seems to curb the liquid spilling out”
- “looks better”
- “clean, fresh and environmentally friendly”
The new tray comprises 50% recycled material and is accepted by every kerbside recycling scheme across New Zealand and as its made of clear plastic not black, it can be easily separated in the recycling centres.
“It’s also easy for customers to recycle. All the user has to do is give the used meat tray a quick rinse under the tap as you do with a lot of other recyclable packaging and pop it in the recycling bin,” confirms Sammons. “By moving to this tray, New World and PAK’nSAVE customers can avoid sending the equivalent of 14 Olympic size swimming pools full of polystyrene to landfill each year.”
But the innovations don’t stop at the trays ability to be recycled say Sammons. The real innovation lies in the trays ability to capture fluid in the base. The little ‘dimples’ in the bottom of the tray hold the fluid there even when tilted or turned upside down, meaning customers don’t have to worry about any nasty meat fluids getting in amongst their shopping.
Working with councils, recyclers and Alto Packaging means the inclusive process undertaken to bring the new trays to market ensure they will not only perform as required but customers can be assured they are 100% able to be recycled, says Sammons.
The recyclable plastic meat tray is just one of a number of sustainable innovations New World and PAK’nSAVE are bringing to the market over the next year, and Sammons confirms the business is committed to leading the charge on providing sustainable supermarket shopping solutions.