Closing the Loop with Ecosense Foundation: Certifying the Circular Journey of Thermoformed PET Packaging

Juan Miguel Perez Rosa, CEO & Co-Founder of Finboot
April 11, 2024

Welcome to our interview series on the circular economy and sustainability.

In this article, we will delve into the challenges and initiatives undertaken by the Ecosense Foundation, a leading organization in promoting tray-to-tray recycling in Europe through their certification scheme, RETRAY. I had the privilege of speaking with Mercedes Gomez, the Managing Director of Ecosense Foundation, to gain insights into their flagship initiatives, future plans, and the impact of regulatory considerations on the industry. Let's dive into the future of thermoformed PET packaging and its role in the circular economy!

About Ecosense Foundation and RETRAY Certification Scheme

The Ecosense Foundation was established in 2017 as a joint initiative between multiple companies in the packaging industry, with support from the European Commission. Their mission is to promote tray-to-tray recycling in Europe through the RETRAY certification scheme. RETRAY focuses on certifying the recycled content and recyclability of thermoformed PET packaging, a specific type of packaging commonly used for fresh food, fish, meat, and cold cuts.

Under the accreditation of ISO 17065, RETRAY ensures traceability and compliance with EN Standard 15343 requirements. The scheme has already certified over 30 companies and more than 70 processes and products in Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. With plans to expand to the United Kingdom and Germany, Ecosense aims to further enhance the recycling infrastructure for thermoformed PET packaging in Europe.

About Ecosense

Addressing theChallenges of Decarbonization and Circular Economy

Decarbonization, sustainability, and circularity are key challenges faced by the packaging industry. Thermoformed PET packaging plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges. Mercedes Gomez highlights that PET has excellent properties for food conservation, thus reducing food waste. Additionally, its light weight nature enables efficient transportation, minimizing CO2 emissions.

Ecosense's certification scheme promotes circularity in thermoformed PET packaging through tray-to-tray recycling. This aligns with the European Commission's goal of closing the loop on packaging, both from an eco-design perspective and bottle-to-bottle recycling. By certifying converters and recyclers, RETRAYensures that the infrastructure for PET tray recycling is established and meets the targets outlined in the new packaging and packaging waste regulation.

RETRAY certification

Integrating Innovative Technologies for Environmental Performance

In their commitment to enhancing environmental performance, resource efficiency, and supply chain transparency, Ecosense is embracing innovative technologies. They are collaborating with Finboot to study the implementation of blockchain technologyin the PET thermoform value chain. This integration of blockchain aligns with their certification scheme's emphasis on traceability, chain of custody, and transparent information sharing.

Blockchain technology allows for secure, auditable, and trustworthy digital traceability ecosystems. By utilizing Finboot's solution, MARCO Track & Trace, Ecosense could ensure that the information regarding the recycling and recyclability of thermoformed PET packaging is verifiable by third parties. This digitalization of the value chain facilitates compliance with legislative requirements, such as the European Greenwashing Directive and the upcoming Eco Design for Sustainability Regulation.

The Impact of Regulatory and Policy Considerations

Regulatory initiatives play a pivotal role in shaping market access and the adoption of sustainable products and technologies within the packaging industry. The European Greenwashing Directive requires third-party verification for environmental claims, reinforcing the importance of certifications like RETRAY. The EcoDesign for Sustainability Regulation will introduce mandatory information requirements and labeling, further driving the need for digital passports and blockchain technology.

The packaging sector faces a high level of regulation, including the No. 2022/1616 regulation for plastic food contact products. Compliance with these regulations poses challenges for both multinational companies and small and medium enterprises. The complexity of gathering and interconnecting requirements varies across member states, making it crucial for companies to stay updated and connected with industry associations and platforms like the Circular Plastics Alliance and the PETCORE Association.

Communicating Sustainability Efforts and Environmental Initiatives

Effective communication and dissemination of sustainability efforts and environmental initiatives are as important as the transition itself. Ecosense ensures their message reaches stakeholders through various channels. They actively participate in industry platforms and associations, such as the Circular Plastics Alliance, the PACKNET (Spanish Packaging Technology Platform), the PETCORE Association in Europe, and TCEP, which is the Tray Circularity Evaluation Platform. This presence allows Ecosense to advocate for circularity and provide valuable insights into improving recycling practices.

Ecosense also employs digital communication strategies, including a dedicated blog on their website.This blog serves as a platform for sharing technical and legislative information relevant to the packaging industry. Additionally, they maintain a strong presence on LinkedIn, where they engage with professionals to share corporate updates, videos, and newsletters.

The Future Outlook for thermoformed PET Packaging

Looking ahead, digitalization will play a crucial role in the future of thermoformed PET packaging and the circular economy. Ecosense's focus on implementing blockchain technology through their collaboration with us highlights the importance of traceability and chain of custody in achieving sustainability goals. The integration of digital traceability ecosystems will provide a robust foundation for compliance with regulations and support the industry's transition towards circularity.

As the demand for sustainable packaging solutions continues to grow, the thermoformed PET packaging industry will face both challenges and opportunities. By leveraging innovative technologies, embracing regulatory frameworks, and fostering effective communication, Ecosense and other stakeholders in the value chain can drive the adoption of sustainable practices and contribute to a more circular and environmentally conscious future.


The Ecosense Foundation, through their RETRAY certification scheme, is leading the way inpromoting tray-to-tray recycling in the thermoformed PET packaging industry. Their initiatives align with the goals of decarbonization, sustainability, and circularity. By integrating innovative technologies like blockchain and actively engaging with regulatory frameworks, Ecosense is driving the industry towards enhanced environmental performance, resource efficiency, and supplychain transparency.

As the industry continues to navigate regulatory considerations, effective communication and dissemination of sustainability efforts are crucial. Ecosense's dedication to keeping stakeholders informed and engaged through their communication channels is vital to promoting relevant content and avoiding misleading information.

With a strong focus on digitalization and the future integration of blockchain technology, Ecosense is poised to shape the future of thermoformed PET packaging and contribute to amore circular economy.

The journey towards circularity and sustainable packaging solutions is ongoing, but with the commitment and collaboration of organizations like Ecosense, a brighter and more environmentally conscious future is within reach.

*FINAL NOTE: Check out the first interview of this series, Accelerate the Energy Transition with VOPAK,here.