Colourant to Help NIR Tech Sort Black Plastics for Recycling

Back to Black for Yogurt Lid Recycling Technology

Gourmet dairy brand, The Collective, is to introduce a near-infrared colourant technology developed by masterbatch and additive specialist Colour Tone, to ensure its black plastic yoghurt pot lids can be effectively recycled.

Image © The Collective

British gourmet dairy brand, The Collective, will be the first Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) business to introduce a near-infrared (NIR) colourant technology developed by masterbatch and additive specialist Colour Tone, to ensure its black plastic yoghurt pot lids can be effectively recycled.

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

To solve the problem the London based firm consulted with recycling specialist, Nextek Ltd. As a result, it was commissioned by waste charity WRAP to lead the very first project to demonstrate the potential of NIR colourants for black plastics detection.

WRAP-funded 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.

“This responsibility doesn’t end with brand owners either, we are calling for assurance from the UK recycling industry itself, to provide sufficient investment into the infrastructure required for the automatic optical detection and sorting of the black plastics waste,” Tony Gaukroger, director, Colour Tone Masterbatch.

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