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The Collective launches technology to help recycle black plastic packaging

From: Packaging News

Gourmet dairy brand The Collective is set to launch near-infrared (NIR) colourant technology which could help the industry recycle black plastic trays and packaging.

Like most black plastics, the original Collective lid featured carbon black and other pigments which absorb the infrared signal used to sort plastics packaging, which made it ‘invisible’ to the sensors used by recycling operations.

This meant The Collective’s black yogurt pot lids would end up as residual waste destined for landfill or incineration, while its clear polypropylene tubs are recycled.

The Collective consulted with leading recycling expert Nextek, and chose to partner with additive and masterbatch specialist Colour Tone to develop a new black masterbatch.

Working in conjunction with WRAP, trials addressed the following issues: the masking strength of the NIR pigment itself; the development of end markets for recycled detectable black plastics and an in-market trial to prove the recycling process for black ready meal tubs and trays.

From October the black lids on The Collective’s 450g and 900g yogurt tubs will feature the new technology.

Tony Gaukroger, director, Colour Tone Masterbatch, said: “We are delighted to support The Collective with this market first for the FMCG industry. It has adopted a revolutionary colourant technology that enables the effective detection and sorting of black plastic waste for recycling into high quality materials. This helps support our growing circular economy and the brand’s sustainable business objectives.

“We therefore urge other FMCG businesses to put eco-design considerations first and follow The Collective’s lead to help reduce the 1.3 billion black single-use food pots, tubs and trays that are sent to landfill each year – around 30,000 tonnes.”

“This responsibility doesn’t end with brand owners either, we are calling for assurance from the UK recycling industry itself, to provide sufficient investment in its infrastructure required for the automatic optical detection and sorting of the black plastics waste stream nationwide, as this technology becomes commonplace.”

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