Packaging makers seek to boost plastic recyclability

Packaging manufacturers Macpac and Quinn Packaging have unveiled new plastic packaging products that offer more environmentally friendly end-of-life solutions than their standard counterparts.

Macpac said its NPD, called Breakdown PET, is biodegradable meaning that, should it end up in landfill, it will naturally decompose in a few years rather than the centuries required for other plastics.

Breakdown PET has an additive composed of organic compounds that attract microbes when placed into microbe-rich environments. Collectively they breaking down the chemical bonds that hold the plastic together, leading to biodegradation.

Macpac added that Breakdown PET had the same characteristics as standard R-PET with at least a 90% recyclable content. It will be on display at the Packaging Innovations show in Birmingham this week (27-28 February).

Quinn Packaging, meanwhile, has created Detecta by Quinn – a range of black plastic food packaging that it claims is fully identifiable via sorting systems in material recovery facilities (MRFs).

Currently, standard black PET trays are not visible to the near-infra-red (NIR) optical sorting equipment used in MRFs, as the trays absorb the infrared beams, meaning they are often rejected by the facility and sent to landfill or incineration.

Quinn attributes this to the use of a carbon black pigment used in their manufacture. As such, the Detecta by Quinn range is coloured black by blending primary and secondary colour pigments. By using this solution, Quinn said the NIR light both passes through and reflects off the tray surface, resulting in the packaging being fully visible to sorting systems.

“In the last 12 months we have seen a growing desire within the food sector to move away from black coloured packaging. For Quinn Packaging this was short-sighted,” said Thomas McCaffrey, new product development manager at Quinn Packaging.

“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. The new Detecta by Quinn range overcomes the issue of identifying and sorting black PET trays for recycling and will hopefully help the industry to move towards a true circular economy.”

British Baker subscribers can find out more about the challenges surrounding plastics recycling by reading our latest feature here.

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