Case study - A new lid for the beverage Ricoré that’s easier to sort and recycle
Nestlé Belgilux has modified its famous Ricoré container: it now comes with a lid in a brand new colour that infrared cameras can detect on sorting lines. The lid can thus be sorted at sorting centres and then recycled.
Detectable by optical sorting
For its coffee products category, Nestlé has modified the colour of the lid of its famous “Ricoré” can, from black to light brown. This polypropylene (PP) lid could not previously be sorted in the sorting centres, and was therefore not recyclable.
The reason behind this sorting issue is that optical sorting uses infrared: it analyses the light reflected on the surface of the packaging. The black of the old Ricoré lids absorbed almost all the light rays, and the light was not reflected. The cameras thus failed to detect these black parts of the packaging. Generally speaking, black packaging is often not identified, detected and sorted. Thanks to Nestlé’s decision to change the colour, the lid is now detected on the sorting lines and makes it way to the polypropylene (PP) stream for recycling.
Nestlé is launching its products on the market across the whole of Europe. The packaging of these products complies with European guidelines. Each country has its own special features, however. Nestlé therefore shares its packaging information with Fost Plus to ensure that the packaging entering the Belgian market is compatible with Belgian sorting and recycling systems. If necessary, the two companies jointly consider the changes that need to be made to improve the recyclability of the packaging.
Against this background, Nestlé and Fost Plus have created an index of all this packaging by product category, thus enabling gradual changes to be introduced. Fost Plus provides advice. The Nestlé Group’s R&D centre for packaging is responsible for innovation based on recommendations.
Kristel Peeters, Head of General Services, Safety, Health & Environment at Nestlé Belgilux, adds that ‘we regularly hold discussions about our packaging projects with our marketeers and the Fost Plus experts. Our aim is to ensure that all our packaging is recyclable by 2025. Fost Plus is our point of expertise for the Belgian market. Since the collaboration, our knowledge and awareness of our packaging have increased considerably. We no longer look at our packaging in the same way! A new packaging project? The first thing to do is to assess its recyclability with Fost Plus, and consider how to improve it where necessary!’