Improve the recyclability of packaging

How to improve the recyclability of Thermoform PET trays

Tip: Consider no label on the tray, use a non-coated carton cover (check with a LCA).


Do: light weighting. Use R-PET if possible.
Don’t: packaging that underperforms, so the product is lost. Packaging smaller than 5 cm in diameter, or larger than 5 L in volume.

Lid/seal medium

Best: lidding film with polyester coating
Difficult in recycling: PE laminate Avoid: PET-seals


Preferred: transparent, clear.
Avoid: opaque colours, dark colours. Difficult in sorting: black.


Do: use small and easy to release labels. (Water or alkali soluble in 60-80°C, wash off self-adhesives).
Avoid: direct printing Don’t: use labels and sleeves bigger than 50% (with volumes less than 500ml), or 70% (with volumes more than 500 ml) of the packaging surface.

Barrier layers

Do: PET has high barrier properties, check if extra barriers are needed.
Difficult in recycling: nylon and EVOH Don’t: avoid using multi-layers unless necessary.

Absorption tissue

Preferred: integrated in the tray design Otherwise: use little glue that releases easily in recycling

Secondary package

Do: Fit for purpose, if the tray is redesigned, check if the box needs an update too.

Frequently asked questions

I am an expert, for example a sorter or recycler, and would like to add a do and a don't. How do I do that?

You can send an email to with your tip and we will contact you.

I want to improve a different kind of packaging then discussed in this tool. How can you help me?

You can send an email to with your idea. We will use your idea to add packaging types to the tool.

Is this information valid for entire Europe?

The KIDV used European standards, like the EPBP standard, if available, as well as their own knowledge of European sorting and recycling to set this tool up. Since every country has it's own collection and recycling system it is not guarenteed that it fit's completely. The KIDV also organised a consultation for the plastic packaging types. For the other materials information, Expra was consulted. You can always check your local sorter and recycler for more information.

Is this the final version?

No, this website will be updated regularly with new types of packaging, new information and the latest insights.

Which sources did you use?

The KIDV used, amogst others, these sources:

Who can I consult for more information on design for recycling?

Besides asking your question to the KIDV via, you can also check with your local producer responsibility system, sorter, recycler or supplier of packaging.  

Why should I improve the recyclability of my packaging?

The main purpose of packaging is protecting the product. The most sustainable packages make sure that the product is available on the desired moment, in good condition. Spoiling the product creates a bigger environmental impact than the use of the packaging (even up to ten times). This means the packaging must be fit for purpose: protect the product, use the least material possible. With protection in mind there are still steps to undertake to improve the recyclability of packaging. Designing packaging with circularity in mind minimises the environmental impact and contributes to cost-savings in materials, energy, transport and disposal.
Do you have another question?

Ideas and suggestions