RANDERS, Denmark – Meat processor Danish Crown announced the company soon will switch to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) trays to package its meat products.

The black or green trays will be made with 80 percent recycled plastic, said the company which has a goal of using 100 percent recycled plastic systemwide. The environmentally friendly packaging will be used for the Danish Crown black plastic trays and green trays used by the company’s organic subsidiary Friland. Danes use roughly 55 million packs of beef and pork from Danish Crown, according to the company.

“Our preliminary calculations show that the shift to PET-plastic will reduce the CO2-emissions per plastic tray by 54 percent if the tray is recycled,” said Preben Sunke, group COO of Danish Crown and responsible for the group’s sustainability strategy. “This number will become even higher in time if it becomes possible to produce the trays entirely of recycled plastic. However, if the PET-tray is incinerated, the reduction is only 6 percent, so it is crucial that we raise the number of trays that are being recycled.”

The Dansk Waste Association estimates that by the end of 2018, 71 of the country’s 98 local authorities collected plastic for recycling from households. However, the Danish government’s plans for plastic is that only 15 percent of plastic waste from Danish households is being recycled while the rest is incinerated.

Danish Crown said the company will communicate to consumers about the new packaging with the goal of motivating them to recycle the trays and to ensure that consumers prepare the trays for recycling. The trays need to be rinsed before being placed in a container for hard plastic.

“The choice that we are making now means that our consumption of plastic is increased by around 5 percent, because PET-plastic weighs slightly more than the other types of plastic which we used previously,” Sunke noted. “To us, this underlines how important it is that consumers help by sorting their waste, while the local authorities need to ensure that a lot more plastic is being collected for recycling.”