Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
On April 22nd, the Subway restaurant chain announced another step in its commitment to making its operations more environmentally responsible. Its newly introduced catering trays are made from 95% post-consumer recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. Subway (Milford, CT) estimates this change will keep about 1.8 million pounds of plastic material from entering the waste stream each year.
Each tray and lid use PET material equivalent to about 19 20-ounce PET soda or water bottles, and Subway notes that the trays and lids can be recycled in commercial recycling facilities. “We have made a commitment to look at every facet of our day-to-day operations in order to make our restaurants more environmentally responsible,” said Elizabeth Stewart, Subway’s marketing director, who also oversees the brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
In April of 2012, Subway announced that it was using new salad bowls, also made of 95% post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastic, predominately from PET soda and water bottles. That, said Subway, would keep about 2.62 million pounds of plastics from going into landfills. To give that large number some perspective, when Subway announced the new salad bowls a year ago it had more than 36,000 locations worldwide. Today its website shows that number has risen to 39,263 restaurants in 102 countries.
Subway says that both the salad bowls and the new catering trays, were created by (Lake Forest, IL), which has 55 facilities in seven countries and says it’s the world’s largest manufacturer of food service items and packaging. Pactiv purchases post-consumer PET bottles, which it recycles and uses to manufacture the salad bowls and lids and the catering trays.
The recycling of PET trays and other thermoformed products has not been as widespread as PET bottle recycling, but it has been growing as more thermoformed PET products have gone to market.
To help accelerate the growth of recycling thermoformed PET, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and NAPCOR, the National Association for PET Container Resources, last year awarded three grants to companies in Maryland, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania to help them establish model programs for collection and intermediate processing of thermoformed PET packaging.