The companies aim to achieve a closed-loop system on a commercial scale – the problem is, black plastic is coloured using carbon pigments, meaning it cannot be sorted by the optical sorting systems widely used in plastics recycling.
As a result, the material often ends up as residue and is disposed of in landfill or recycled into lower value materials where sorting is not required.
Viridor’s project team says it has now developed a method to separate black plastic from household waste streams and recycle it back into new food-grade plastic packaging, which will be used by M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco products.
Initial volumes are estimated at around 30 tonnes a week, a figure the group plans to significantly increase over the next 18 months.
A spokesperson for the company said: “This is an example of how collaboration between all parts of the supply chain can deliver higher levels of recycling and more sustainable packaging solutions – something that the Plastics Pact is aiming to achieve.”