In an article published on October 11, 2018, by Plastics News Europe, Tony Gaukroger, director of Colour Tone Masterbatch, explained “why brand owners are making the switch to recyclable black plastics.”
According to Gaukroger, in May 2018 his company launched black packages that “avoid the use of traditional carbon black pigments” and instead contain a ‘next generation’ black colorant that is detectable by near-infrared (NIR) light. This makes these package amenable to sorting at mixed-waste materials recovery facilities (MRFs). Following the launch, increasing number of “retailers, packaging manufacturers and brand owners” have switched or are currently considering a switch to NIR colorants technology “to ensure their black plastic packaging pots, tubs and ready meal trays are recyclable.” Gaukroger sees this as a “major step forward for the campaign to reduce black packaging waste and goes against those that still persist with the incorrect claim that black plastics cannot be easily recycled and should be avoided.” Therefore, he calls on the retailers to consider this new option for recyclable packaging and also suggests that “the general public must . . . be made aware of this new development so that black plastic is not seen as something we must avoid.”
With regard to the remaining impediments to broad recycling of black plastics, Gaukroger acknowledges that there is a need “to ensure there are sufficient NIR sorting methods available” at recovery facilities. The “progress on this issue has been slow so far” and needs to pick up in the future.
Tony Gaukroger (October 11, 2018). “Opinion: Back to black.” Plastics News Europe