Case study

Colruyt Says ‘No’ to Black Plastic Packaging


The Belgian industry aims to make all household packaging recyclable or reusable by the end of 2025. With this goal in mind, Colruyt Group has made significant efforts. In 2023 alone, they switched 1,990 tons of packaging material to more recyclable alternatives. An example is detergents with ‘carbon black’ in the packaging. From now on, a light-colored bottle is used, made with more recycled material and containing more doses for the same size. This makes the packaging recyclable and adds recycled content.

The Problem with Carbon Black

For certain Colruyt products, such as detergents for dark laundry and meat trays, dark packaging with carbon black was often used. These unfortunately often pose a sorting problem in sorting centers, as they are frequently not detected by optical sorters. Even if consumers sort the packaging correctly, they often end up in the residual waste stream at the sorting center, causing the materials to be lost for recycling.


To solve this problem, Colruyt decided to replace carbon black-based black with a light color for the detergents. Additionally, the new detergent bottles contain more recycled material and have more doses in the same bottle. Since November 2023, they have also replaced the black foam trays for fresh meat. The new dark gray color without carbon black still contrasts well with the food but can be detected in sorting centers and subsequently recycled.

The Result

Thanks to this innovation, Colruyt products are now significantly more recyclable. In total, about 880 tons of XPS trays can now be sorted and recycled. Because the innovation was so successful, gray trays without carbon black have even become the norm among their packaging manufacturers.

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