Faerch Plast has claimed a first with its black crystalline polyethylene (CPET) material that can be detected by Near InfraRed (NIR) sensors enabling recyclers to sort the material in the plastic waste stream.
The Danish firm claims that the recycling of black CPET was not possible before, as it couldn’t be detected by the NIR sensors used by most recyclers.
The material is the end result of a project aimed at making the trays more recyclable which involved testing and trails using different pigments and dyes.
It was developed in conjunction with stakeholders WRAP, Nextek, Titech, Eurofins and UK supermarket retailers.
Use of non-carbon pigments
WRAP announced last year that recycling black plastics could be feasible after trials found that by using non-carbon pigments in the manufacture of black plastics, it is possible to create a material that is almost identical in colour, but can be identified by the optical sorting equipment used by materials recycling facilities.
CPET is used primarily for ready meals as it retains its shape at high temperature.
Jesper Emil Jensen, senior manager at Færch Plast, said: “Faerch Plast continually conducts research into the raw materials it uses and during the past 12 months the business has been heavily involved in a project aimed at making black trays more recyclable.
“Until now, recycling of black CPET has not been possible as it can’t be detected by the NIR sensors used by most recyclers. It has been a complicated project because the current pigment is both good at what it does and is also the cheapest form of black available on the market.”
Faerch Plast currently uses approximately 99% of its raw materials directly in the manufacturing process with the rest being sent for recycling or energy recovery.
Last month, the firm claimed a breakthrough in developing a range of aluminium-look CPET containers for the UK premium ready to cook sector.
It also recently unveiled MAPET II mono packaging designed for meat and poultry to compete against containers using multi-layer materials.