Plastics Recyclers Europe, the Brussels-based trade body, is calling for a joint initiative to establish a separate recycling stream for thermoformed PET trays.
According to the trade group, PET trays are a valuable secondary material that needs to be sorted separately from PET bottles.
Chairman Casper van den Dungen said in a news release: "Trays and bottles are two different types of products which cannot be recycled in the same recycling line. Their designs and chemical compositions are not the same and can create quality problems for existing PET recyclers."
Currently, collection schemes in Europe do not separate PET trays, which are used for packaging of fresh produce.
"The collection schemes and sorting centers cannot push this issue down the value chain," Van den Dungen said.
Plastics Recyclers Europe says that 700,000 metric tons of PET trays are consumed in Europe each year. These can be recycled and reused as a valuable secondary material if they are properly separated from other streams such as PET bottles or polyolefins.
The group says a trend for separation would enable companies to invest in lines able to recycle PET trays. That would improve Europe's resource efficiency.
"Plastics Recyclers Europe calls for a joint value chain approach to recycle valuable PET trays and warns about one-sided actions that could endanger the recycling of one of the most recycled plastics," the group said.