Irish food packaging producer Quinn Packaging has developed a range of patent-pending black PET trays that are fully identifiable in sorting systems.
Currently, standard black PET trays are manufactured using a carbon black colour additive, which absorbs the infra-red beams in Near Infra-Red (NIR) optical sorting equipment used by Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). The additive used in Detecta by Quinn is said to allow for easy removal using NIR equipment.
The converter partnered with Tomra, a provider of sensor-based sorting systems, to undertake trials at the latter’s German plant. The company found that the trays, which also include more than 90 per cent recycled content, were fully identifiable across all sorting situations.
For Thomas McCaffrey, new product development manager at Quinn Packaging, the general market shift away from black plastics is short-sighted: “If we are serious about moving towards a true circular economy, where food trays are recycled back into food trays, then the ultimate packaging colour to achieve this is black.”
Repak, which operates the packaging recovery compliance scheme for Ireland under license from the Irish government, has endorsed Detecta by Quinn. Brian Walsh, packaging technology executive at Repak, added: “The EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy has a recycling target of 75 per cent for packaging waste by 2030. To allow us to achieve this we need a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, identify where problems exist and then work together to bring forward solutions.”