UK cross-industry group wants to enforce black plastic packaging recycling

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Source: RECycling Of Used Plastics Ltd (RECOUP)

Peterborough, UK — A cross-industry group has agreed a range of new actions and commitments to tackle the long-standing challenge of recycling black plastic packaging. This will enable this valuable plastic fraction to be recycled back into a raw material source, resulting in less waste and improved resource efficiency. The work is being conducted through reviewing available and developing sorting technologies and recycling markets to understand optimal opportunities, and implementing feasible, commercial long-term sustainable solutions.

Collaborating across the supply chain, the group includes members from packaging manufacturers, packers, brands and retailers, to material re-processors, trade associations and independent specialists. Marcus Gover, CEO of WRAP, commented: “WRAP has been working for a long time to make black plastic packaging recyclable. We have a solution which means that we can produce black plastic packaging that can be detected in the sorting process and recycled. We now need the whole industry to take up that solution – from packaging producer and retailer to waste manager and recycler. This commitment to do that is welcomed and I look forward to seeing the action that will follow. Citizens want their black plastic packaging to be recyclable. Together, we now need to make that happen.”

Roadmap to success

Led by plastic recycling charity Recoup, the group has developed a Black Plastic Packaging Recycling Roadmap, and is actively assessing and progressing actions within three overarching objectives:

  • Roll out the use of tried and tested detectable pigment;
  • Develop business models and new technology solutions to sort existing black plastic packaging material;
  • Assess and implement opportunities to change from black to an alternative colour.

Meeting these objectives will enable the collection, sorting and recycling of black plastic packaging, and the development of sustainable solutions which can be embraced by all members of the supply and recycling chain. This includes end market development, which is essential to ensure demand is created to enable the value of this material to be fully realised.

The commitment

The group has made clear a commitment to the industry and public to“find sustainable solutions by the end of 2018 that will enable the recycling of all black plastic packaging bottles, pots, tubs and trays.” This will be delivered within the Black Plastics Packaging Recycling Roadmap with representatives from all sectors engaged with ongoing activities to explore available and new opportunities, including:

  • Building on previous work, assessing the impacts of black plastic packaging items and use of detectable black packaging on material sorting facilities;
  • Developing a defined roll out of detectable pigment;
  • Encouraging and enabling technical providers to develop sorting and reprocessing solutions;
  • Testing the viability of using different colours and shades to ensure any changes of pack colour will demonstrably improve detectability for recycling;
  • Assessing new alternative sorting solutions;
  • Researching and testing closed and open loop end markets.

All of this will feed into best practice guidance for brands, retailers and Local Authorities on how they should collect and use black plastic packaging.

Source: RECycling Of Used Plastics Ltd