The implementation on 1 January 2019 of the new German Packaging Act also saw the institution of the Central Packaging Registry, Germany’s new organisational entity tasked with ensuring legally compliant distribution of packaging, its takeback and its high-quality recycling.
The law applies to all ‘distributors who put packaging into commercial circulation on the German market for the first time’, for whom registration with the new Central Packaging Registry is therefore mandatory. In other words, companies exporting to Germany must also take part in the dual disposal system to facilitate packaging recovery.
Moreover, in an effort to further promote packaging recycling and reutilisation, the legal minimum recycling target increased on the introduction of the new act in all material categories, with each take-back service having to provide a yearly verification report to show these targets have been achieved.
This has led to new efforts among masterbatch producers to develop products better able to fulfil these requirements. Af-Color, a branch of Akro-Plastic in Germany and a supplier of standardised and high-quality engineering masterbatches, has explored the possibility of colour masterbatches that are formulated without using carbon black.
Carbon black pigments complicate the conventional recycling process as most automated sorting systems make use of near infrared sensors able to differentiate between the different plastics - polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, and various other common packaging plastics - used.
Coloured parts containing contain carbon black, however, absorb the NIR rays, making the sorting of dark-coloured packaging virtually impossible.
However: “Nearly every colour can be formulated to be free of carbon black,” said Af-Color.
The company tested high-quality inorganic ingredients from various manufacturers in the development of the new IR product range, with a primary focus on achieving the greatest possible colour depth in the black range. It is also working on certain other colour masterbatches containing carbon black that also fall through the sorting grid.
"In view of the resulting requirements, some products from our portfolio have already been reformulated and successfully recreated in preparation for and in response to the wishes of our customers", says Dirk Schoening, Sales Director at Af-Color.