Win-win for ConAgra

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods becomes the first company in North America to incorporate post-consumer recycled plastic in its frozen meal trays. ConAgra began using between 30 percent and 40 percent post-consumer recycled plastic in nearly all of its frozen meal trays for Healthy Choice, Banquet, Kid Cuisine and Marie Callender's products in June. Most frozen meals trays are made of crystallized PET plastic, a material that uses only newly produced plastics and requires more energy and resources to produce. Post-consumer recycled plastic is packaging – such as plastic bottles -- that has been used by consumers and is sent to landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only about 30 percent of plastic soda bottles are recycled each year. Through these new meal trays, ConAgra Foods will use at least 8 million pounds of post-consumer recycled plastic annually. ConAgra’s partner, Associated Packaging Technologies, utilizes a new technology that cleans recycled plastic for use as a component in frozen meal trays. This ultra-clean processing technology makes it safe for consumers to eat the prepared food directly from the frozen meal trays. The new trays are approved by the FDA as direct food contact materials. By incorporating post-consumer recycled plastic in its frozen meal trays, ConAgra will: eliminate about 8 million pounds of plastic from going to landfills, which is the equivalent of approximately 128 million 20-ounce plastic bottles, per year; save 236 million BTUs of energy, which is enough energy to run 2,593 average American homes for one year; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15,200 tons of CO2 per year, which is the same as taking nearly 2,000 cars off the road each year.