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ConAgra Foods said it is the first company in North America to incorporate post-consumer recycled plastic in frozen meal trays, in an initiative that it said will divert approximately 8 million pounds of plastic from landfills to the recycling stream annually.
ConAgra said it has begun to use between 30 percent and 40 percent post-consumer recycled plastic in nearly all of the frozen meal trays for its Healthy Choice, Banquet, Kid Cuisine, and Marie Callender's products. Most frozen meals trays used by other companies are made of crystallized PET plastic, a material that uses only newly produced plastics and that requires more energy and resources to produce, ConAgra said.
The Omaha, Neb.-based food manufacturer collaborated with Associated Packaging Technologies on new technology that cleans recycled plastic for use as a component in frozen meal trays. The new trays are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as direct food contact materials.
Older plastics technologies limited food companies to using only new plastic to comply with regulations for direct food contact materials. The new ultra-clean processing technology makes it safe for consumers to eat the prepared food directly from the frozen meal trays.
ConAgra said it began its transition to the new trays in June.