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Monterey Mushrooms Introduces rPET with NIR Sortable Colorant Packaging

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Watch the video above to hear Monterey Mushrooms' Lindsey Occhipinti discuss this change.

Monterey Mushrooms has taken a significant step forward to enhance the recyclability of its packaging by incorporating near-infrared (NIR) sortable material in its rPET tills.

WATSONVILLE, CA | Monterey Mushrooms is cultivating more than a meal; they're nurturing a sustainable future. This Spring the company will be making a significant change to enhance the recyclability of its mushroom packaging by incorporating near-infrared (NIR) sortable material in their recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (rPET) thermoformed tills. 

The company's rPET tills are produced using 100% post-consumer recycled materials sourced entirely from North America. This means the material used in the tills has already had a prior life, thus reducing plastic waste in landfills and contributing to a circular economy. The use of NIR sortable colorant ensures that the packaging can be properly sorted and recycled into new products. 

PET and PETE are both abbreviations for the plastic: Polyethylene Terephthalate. This is the most commonly used plastic in consumer use, with the recycling number 1 as its symbol. Comparing PET/PETE with rPET, the difference is the r, which stands for recycled. The r notes that this material is a recycled version of PET/PETE plastic. 

By using rPET, the mushroom industry can give multiple lives to mixed-color recycled PET materials. rPET with NIR sortable colorant can potentially provide long-term cost advantages compared to other colors, including clear rPET. 

“In the 1980s, Monterey Mushrooms revolutionized the retail industry by introducing pre-packaged mushrooms,” said Bruce Knobeloch, VP of Product Development and Marketing. “Since then, the mushroom industry has been repurposing colored rPET, such as opaque blue, opaque green, and black rPET plastics, to give them a new life. We believe using clear rPET is wasteful and a regressive step for our industry.” 

The company considers its tills with the NIR sortable colorant as a black alternative color.  The hue will vary between blue, green, purple, black, etc, as the recycled base material used to manufacture the tills will change.


The recycling rate in the United States is 29%, and the recycling rate in North America as a whole is 37.8%. Recycling centers play a vital role in transforming plastic waste into reusable materials. However, the sorting and processing of plastics can be challenging due to variations in composition and color. 

There’s a lot of confusion out there among consumers about what can be recycled. All rPET materials CAN be recycled but the problem is that our nation does not have the infrastructure to do so. 

The amount of plastic waste in the U.S. has increased tenfold since the 1970s, leading to overflowing landfills and ocean pollution, while recycling rates have remained low. 

Monterey Mushrooms wants policymakers to consider the following question:

What actions can be taken to facilitate a shift towards a more circular economy, including innovation and investment in manufacturing and recycling capabilities?

Monterey Mushrooms invites you to join them in their commitment to sustainability. “By choosing black alternative rPET with NIR sortable colorant, we're not just packaging mushrooms; we're packaging a greener future,” said Knobeloch.

You can learn more by watching the Monterey Mushrooms video above.