PET is the polymer champion in circularity and PET trays are already great performers in terms of use of recyclates; in the EU market, PET-based trays contain on average around 55% of recycled plastics but this is just the first step already achieved towards circularity.

There is a growing trend in the collection of PET trays for specific recycling activities. Nonetheless, more work must be done. Besides separate collection and proper sorting of trays and other PET sheet-based products, design for recycling is a major tool to boost their circularity.


To extend the success story of PET bottles ( and their high recycling rate in Europe, Petcore Europe published Design for Recycling Guidelines for PET trays "clear transparent to be recycled even in food applications”. The guidelines have been developed by the PET Thermoforms Working Group under Petcore Europe and can be consulted by the industry to improve the design for recycling of their packaging. 

With these guidelines the PET industry wants to show that properly designed packaging, separate collection, good sorting and recycling of PET trays are the way towards circularity. They reflect the current status-of-the art of technology; Petcore Europe will welcome any suggestion and will evaluate any new incoming technology in order to improve the document.

In addition to the guidelines, Petcore Europe also published a recyclability evaluation protocol for PET trays and a testing protocol regarding the wash-off of Adhesive/labels on PET trays which can be downloaded below.

  Design for Recycling Guidelines - PET Trays Clear Transparent Jan 2020 |  Recyclability evaluation protocol for PET trays | 
  Adhesive/labels Wash-off Testing Protocol


In addition to the clear transparent tray guidelines, Petcore Europe is elaborating guidelines for coloured and multi-layer trays:

  1. For coloured trays the DfR guidelines are being elaborated and will be ready by October 2020.
  2. For multi-layer trays our objective is to have the DfR guidelines ready by January 2021.