My local council accepts white plastic for recycling. If white is ok, why do we produce meat packaging, frozen meal packaging etc in black?

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    Your information is out-of-date, nowadays it can. But maybe not all installations yet.
    – user2451
    Jan 27, 2017 at 18:13
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    @JanDoggen that answer doesn't answer the main question here - since black plastic is harder to recycle, why is it used? I assume there's some functional or financial reason, which isn't discussed at that question. Perhaps a better way to phrase this question would be, "Are there cheaper or better alternatives to black plastic which are easier to recycle?"
    – LShaver
    Jan 27, 2017 at 20:26
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    If I can find a reference I'll post an answer, but I seem to remember (from our council's recycling update a while back) that black is what they do with recycled plastic that's got too much residual colour to do anything else
    – Chris H
    Jan 28, 2017 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


One reason for using black plastic for meat packaging is the hide the blood that can sometimes seep out of the meat. It gives the appearance of a cleaner presentation. I've seen meat packaged in white & black plastic trays and the black ones always look neater & give the appearance of being cleaner.

The choice of a color for a plastic item, such as packaging, may be more of a marketing decision than an environmental one. Not everyone is concerned with sustainability & the environment, some people are more concerned about making money & improving only their quality of life irrespective of the impact that may have on others or the environment.

  • Strangely enough, around here meat is rarely seen in anything other than clear/white trays (UK supermarkets) so this isn't a universal preference.
    – Chris H
    Jan 28, 2017 at 8:51
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    Packaged meat often has an absorbing pad below it.
    – user2451
    Jan 28, 2017 at 16:16
  • U.K. Supermarkets I have seen all have red meat in black trays and poultry in white trays. Red meat also has an absorbent pad.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 29, 2017 at 12:05
  • @Rory Funnily enough I found an exception - chicken breasts from sainsbury's are in a black tray. We don't eat very much red meat but most of what we do comes in a clear/white tray (sainsbury's again)
    – Chris H
    Jan 31, 2017 at 7:47

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