Detectable Black Plastics

This ground breaking research and development project to facilitate the development of technical solutions for the recovery and recycling of rigid black plastic packaging from a mixed plastic waste stream and to deliver environmental benefits over existing waste management options was conducted by Nextek Ltd and commissioned by WRAP.

Common black pigments cannot be sorted by systems being used in most Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs), and Plastics Recovery Facilities (PRFs). Novel alternative colourant techniques would allow sorting of black packaging in existing mixed plastics sorting facilities which was a key objective. A small number of colourants were selected in order to evaluate these key principles, which will be equally applicable to all suppliers.

The results show the economic benefits arising from the recycling of up to an estimated 60,000 tpa of black plastic  that could include electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), automotive and building/construction industries. A range of detectable black colourants are now available that allow the automatic detection and recovery of these materials to be reused as substitutes for virgin plastics avoiding landfill.