New poultry meat tray to reduce plastic waste

A new meat tray that does not need an absorbent pad for juices cuts the amount of plastic being sent to landfill.

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Alaa Alaizoki displays a poultry tray with an absorbent pad next to a new tray he developed that eliminates the need for those pads. (Courtesy Swansea University)
Alaa Alaizoki displays a poultry tray with an absorbent pad next to a new tray he developed that eliminates the need for those pads. (Courtesy Swansea University)

A new type of plastic packaging for raw poultry and meat that avoids the need for non-recyclable juice-absorbing pads inside the trays has been developed by a researcher in Swansea, U.K.

Doing away with the absorbent pad means that the whole tray can be recycled, a real plus for any poultry company that further wants to boost its sustainability credentials.

The slightly space age-looking, innovative packaging sees the tray itself retain meat juices through small-scale well-cavities. Juices remain trapped during storage and transport and cannot flow out again, maintaining shelf-life and product appearance and making all of the packaging recyclable.

Unlike most of the trays themselves, pads cannot be recycled. Doing away with the absorbent pad also removes additional cost and labor requirements during packaging manufacture.

The new product’s development was led by Alaa Alaizoki, as part of his engineering doctorate at Swansea University, in collaboration with food packaging company Klöckner Pentaplast. Alaizoki notes that development should help reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.

Plastic is a particular issue for the food sector as materials used to package food are thought to account for almost of all municipal solid waste in some markets.


The tray is already being used by a number of leading retailers in the U.K. and further afield and its developer believes that it could also be used in a number of other fields.

And if recognition by major retailers was not enough, the tray has been awarded the Sustainable Supplier Award 2021 in the Footprint Awards, which recognize sustainability and responsible business practices in the food service industry and supply chains are doing.

With the public ever more concerned by the long-term impact of plastic on the environment, eliminating non-recyclable plastics has to be good not only for the environment, but also for any company that is seen to be doing so. And it is worth remembering that legislation governing waste is becoming stricter by the day.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot say that particularly enjoy removing the absorbent pad from poultry meat trays prior to washing them for recycling, so I, for one, particularly welcome this development.

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