Why You Should Take the Sealing Film off a Plastic Tray or Dish


We have to admit it: people working at Fost Plus have a strange force of habit. When visiting friends or family, we cannot resist having a quick peek at the PMD bag when we put something in the bin. One of the sorting errors we find most often is not removing the sealing film from a product tray or dish.

But why do we ask you to remove the film from plastic pots or containers? The reason is quite simple: the plastic film is made from a different material from the plastic tray and the two are recycled separately. If the film is still attached to the tray, it is very likely that it will not be recycled at all because it could not be sorted correctly at the sorting centre. And of course that would be a shame.

Afsluitfolie los van het potje

So what actually happens?

All the PMD you put in the blue bag ends up at one of the many sorting centres in Belgium. At these sorting facilities, different types of packaging are separated using various machines and techniques, so as to end up with no less than 16 different types of separate materials. The P in PMD stands for plastic packaging: that covers 11 of those 16 materials. A plastic pot or container may be part of various material flows such as 'PET trays', 'polypropylene', 'HDPE’ or others.

Sorteercentrum Indaver

The foil top on a plastic pot or container does not belong to any of the material streams mentioned above. It comes under one of the two foil streams, or the 'small aluminium' stream if it is made from pure aluminium.

However, some of the tops on these items are not recyclable. If they are made from different materials that cannot be separated, they should go into residual waste. One example is a yoghurt pot with a top made from a mixture of plastic and paper. Fost Plus is making efforts to ensure that all packaging is recyclable, so sealed tops of this type will disappear.

So how are these trays and sealing films or foil tops separated at the sorting centre? Films and foils are separated from the rest of the PMD by wind sifters that remove the films and foils using suction, while plastic pots and containers are separated by optical separators. If the film is still attached to a tray, it will not be separated by the wind sifters, because they can only pick up very light plastic items.


Do you need to know which film goes into each material flow? Not at all. All you need to know is that you have to separate the plastic film from the plastic container so that they end up in separate bales at the sorting centre and can then be recycled in separate recycling companies.

Other doubts about sorting waste? Fill in what you want to recycle on top of this page and get the answer right away! 

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