A cross-industry group has agreed a range of new actions and commitments to tackle the long-standing challenge of recycling black plastic packaging.
Led by plastic recycling charity RECOUP, the group has developed a “Black Plastic Packaging Recycling Roadmap”, and it is actively assessing and progressing actions within three overarching objectives:
- to roll out the use of tried and tested detectable pigment
- to develop business models and new technology solutions to sort existing black plastic packaging material
- and to assess and implement opportunities to change from black to an alternative colour.
The group says that the Roadmap 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.
Roadmap To Success
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 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. The group says that further developments and progress will be reported by the end of 2017.
Stuart Foster, CEO, RECOUP explained: “Despite the in-evitable politics and positioning behind issues such as black plastic recycling, our role at RECOUP is to bring the various groups and stakeholders together to make practical steps forward and build on the great work of individual organisations to date. The ultimate aim is to drive black plastic recycling forwards in a practical and sensible way, turning ambitions and collaborative thinking into actual delivery.”