Viridor and Nextek joining to recycle black plastic from supermarket packaging

1098
Schalen zur Lebensmittel-Verpackung (Foto: hannsbenn / Pixabay)

Exeter, UK — Viridor, one of UK’s leading recyclers, has joined with packaging specialist Nextek to end the over 1.3 billion of black plastic ready meal trays sold by UK supermarkets needlessly being sent each year as rubbish, rather than becoming valuable resource. Up until now it has not been possible to recycle black plastics commonly found in supermarket packaging due to the use of a carbon black pigment which prevent packaging being recognized and sorted by existing global recycling technologies.

Nextek, funded by government recycling experts WRAP, has created a new black pigment system, which makes 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.

Viridor’s national network of high-tech plants have no problem sorting most plastics. But current generation ready meal or meat trays, whilst shiny and inviting on supermarket shelves, do not reflect light and make it impossible for recycling technology across Europe to detect.

With recycling rates falling in England, down 0.7 percent in the last year to 43 percent, the innovation is badly needed. Viridor knows that the public want to do the right thing – but the company’s UK recycling index shows that 64 percent are confused about what they can recycle with black plastics being a prime example. As recently as last week, government recycling experts WRAP called on councils to add black plastics to their ‘not recycled’ list.

Viridor’s national network of high-tech plants have no problem sorting most plastics. But current generation ready meal or meat trays, whilst shiny and inviting on supermarket shelves, do not reflect light and make it impossible for recycling technology across Europe to detect.

Sarah Heald, Director of Corporate Affairs & Investor Relations at Viridor’s parent company Pennon, said: “Viridor is constantly working on solutions to simplify Britain’s maze of recycling systems, to cut collection costs to council tax payers and to align next generation resources with the needs of UK industry. 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.”

Source: Viridor Limited