In this section, you can access to the latest technical information related to the RECYPACK project topic.
Unilever innovation makes more black HDPE bottles recyclable
Continued developments around the world of plastics and packaging continue to advance recycling prospects include a newly announced breakthrough that makes black bottles sustainably greener.
A new detectable black pigment pioneered by Unilever (Rotterdam) for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles for its leading brands, TRESemmé and Lynx, means the used personal care product bottles can be detected by recycling plant scanners to be sorted for recycling. The result? An additional 2,500 tonnes/2,756 tons of plastic bottles could now potentially be sorted and sent for recycling each year—equivalent to the weight of 1,250 family-sized cars. Scanners require only a minor adjustment, according to Unilever.
The company plans to phase in the new detectable bottles during 2019 so that Unilever can further “close the loop” by using the recycled black plastic back in new packaging. In 2019, TRESemmé and Lynx will both introduce a minimum of 30% recycled material into their packs.
Standard black plastic bottles go undetected by automatic optical sorting machines in recycling plants because they use near-infrared light, which is absorbed by the carbon black pigment traditionally used to color them. This effectively makes them invisible to the sorter and leads to their rejection into waste streams.
Carbon black solution found
In partnership with RECOUP and waste management partners Veolia, SUEZ, Viridor and TOMRA, Unilever has carried out extensive trials that proved the new pigment can be technically detected within their UK material recycling facilities.
The intellectual property from this technical solution will be made accessible to others in the industry and to other markets globally. We will be pleased to share our work and the insights generated with other manufacturers to enable wide use of this technology and approach.
This move to using the new detectable black plastic is part of Unilever UK’s commitment to The UK Plastics Pact and its new ‘Get Plastic Wise’ campaign, a Five Point Plastics Plan which aims to tackle plastic waste in the UK and move towards a closed loop where plastic stays within the plastic economy and does not leak out to the environment.
Sebastian Munden, General Manager of Unilever UKI, said: “Unilever has committed to ensuring that, globally, all of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to using more recycled plastic content in our packaging. For the UK and Ireland we want to significantly accelerate this and we’re proud our innovation will help us towards achieving our aim, as well as making a significant contribution towards the UK Plastics Pact targets. We’d like to thank our industry partners for their part in working with us to make this possible.”
Select quotes from partners
A project of this scale required other stakeholders to participate; here are quotes from those contributing companies:
—Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland.
—Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at WRAP, which manages The UK Plastics Pact.
—Stuart Foster, CEO, RECOUP
—Phil Piddington, Viridor’s Managing Director
—Stuart Hayward-Higham, Technical Development Director at SUEZ
—Jürgen Priesters, VP and Head of Business Development at TOMRA Sorting Recycling
» Publication Date: 23/05/2019
The development of this project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union
This publication reflects only the author's view and that the Agency/Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains