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WRAP studies sorting and end-markets opportunities for black plastics

Supply and demand barriers to recycling black plastics can be overcome, according to WRAP research.

The body has published the findings of a study on a black dye that can be detected by sorting sensors and potential end uses for the material.

Up to 60,000 tonnes of black plastic packaging enters the household waste stream every year, according to WRAP.

But it is difficult to separate from the waste stream as the carbon black pigment traditionally used for its production absorbs Near Infrared (NIR), the reflection system commonly used to separate different types of plastics.

WRAP trialled a black plastics pigment that reflects NIR and can therefore be detected by NIR sensors, while at the same time maintaining sufficient masking capabilities.

The organisation also studied what market opportunities were available for the back plastics, to placate reprocessors’ concerns that those would be lacking.

It found that detectable black plastics could be used in new trays with up to 20% of recycled content, or to produce polyester fibres and black strappings.

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