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Recycling black plastic

black plastic

Three major retailers, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, have joined forces with plastic packaging manufacturer, Faerch Plast, and recycling and waste management company, Viridor, to put recycled black plastic into new food grade packaging[6, 7]. The aim is to provide a circular economy solution to a previously challenging material that was difficult to recycle and to reduce the amount of virgin plastic entering the economy.

The solution developed at the Viridor recycling facility enables accurate detection of the black pigment in packaging items, such as food trays, which have previously been hard-to-recycle, and separates them for shredding, melting and re-use in new packaging. Initially 120 tonnes of black plastic (8m items) will be recycled in the UK each month starting from July 2018.

The volume of material will be steadily increased over the next 18 months with Viridor’s specialist plastics recycling facility at Rochester in Kent becoming a centre of excellence for the initiative. The black plastic from household mixed waste recycling will be recycled into high quality mixed coloured ‘jazz’ flakes to create food grade packaging. The flakes and pellets will be taken to Faerch Plast’s manufacturing facility in Ely, Cambridgeshire, where they will be used in new packaging solutions.

The key to the project was the collaboration across the supply chain, with the retailers creating the sustained demand for the recycled material and recycled plastic packaging. The supermarkets all started to use the recycled black plastic for their own brand products from July. However, more work is needed to achieve high and sustainable levels of tray recycling with further investment required in commercially viable waste collection systems and sorting and recycling facilities for PET pots, tubs and trays.

All the partners are signatories of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact, which aims to achieve a 20% reduction in food and drink waste across the UK and a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from food and drink consumed in the UK. The Pact sets out clear ambitions for a more responsible and resource-efficient approach to plastics by all sectors and provides the framework for collaborative action.




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