Consumers may soon be able to recycle the black plastic trays used by food manufacturers.

Danish packaging firm Faerch Plast has broken new ground by devising a form of black crystalline polyethylene (CPET) that near infrared (NIR) sensors can pick out and separate at recycling centres, reported edie.net.

Jesper Emil Jensen, senior manager at the company, claimed the innovation is cost-effective and works well; raising hopes that households will soon be able to deposit the plastic in kitchen recycling bins rather than sending such packaging to landfill.

He said: “Until now, recycling of black CPET has not been possible as it can’t be detected by the NIR sensors used by most recyclers. It has been a complicated project because the current pigment is both good at what it does and is also the cheapest form of black available on the market.”

Faerch Plast developed the plastic alongside several UK supermarkets, as well as Eurofins, Titech, Nextek and WRAP. Packagingeurope.com suggested the innovation could “revolutionise” the plastics industry, as up until now black plastic could not be sorted at recycling centres.

Despite being a Danish company, Faerch Plast has a manufacturing facility in the north-east of England. Mr Jensen explained that the firm was able to achieve the recyclable black plastic by trying out different dyes and pigments.

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