Black plastic trays could be widely recycled using exisiting sorting systems if the technology is adopted
The collaboration between a technology innovator, recycler and retailer to overcome the problem of recycling black plastic trays has been described as a potential breakthrough by one of the project partners.
“Bringing together all the main parties for the first time, from us as technology innovator, to the Co-Op as retailer, and Viridor as the recycler is momentous. I’m confident that together we have found a technology solution to end these trays filling up landfills. This is a technology that can work immediately in virtually all recycling facilities across UK, Europe and USA,” he explained.
Nextek is behind the development of the new black pigment system that allows the use of black materials without using carbon black, allowing it to be sorted at source by existing near infrared (NIR) technology. Trays made with this system have been trialled at Viridor’s specialist £15m plastics facility in Medway, Kent.
Sarah Heald, Director of Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations at Viridor’s parent company, Pennon, said: “Working with Nextek has allowed us to test the potential for a new UK technology to transform the global problem of supermarket black plastic packaging into a new recycling stream.
“We are committed to working with manufacturers, packaging designers and supermarkets to accelerate innovation – using less packaging, designing in recyclability then simplifying recycling systems so that everyone can do the right thing and put the right stuff in the right bin.”
With recycling rates falling in England, down 0.7 percent in the last year to 43 percent, the innovation is badly needed. Surveys of consumers repeatedly highlight confusion as to what is eligible for recycling, with differentiation between local authorities, as well as On Pack Recycling Labels (OPRL) listed as common causes of uncertainty.
The collaboration was recently highlighted on prime time BBC One television programme, the One Show, as well as reported in several mainstream newspapers and online media sites.