A young start-up that has developed a methodology to determine the recycled content of a plastic product is working with On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Ltd and a consortium of sponsors across the plastics sector to further develop the technology for, among others, packaging applications.
Recon² - the name is derived from Recycled Content Reconnaissance - is a University of Manchester not-for-profit spin-out company that uses tracking marker technology to quantify recycled content in plastic products and packaging.
The method is low cost, simple, and reliable. It works by incorporating minute quantities of fluorescent “tracer” molecules into a plastic recyclate stream during compounding. These molecules enable the direct quantification of recycled content in plastics with a quick scan directly on the surface, preventing any wasteful additional processing steps and keeping costs low and speed high. Within minutes, the recycled content of any plastic product – thus far proven at lab scale for HDPE, LDPE, PP and PET – can be assessed reliably, independent of processing steps, additives, and product type. The tracer molecule is also FDA and REACH approved, and is invisible under ambient lighting.
Together with OPRL and a group of sponsors, Recon² Ltd is now working to take the technology further to ensure ‘it is fit-for-purpose’, as Dr. Thomas Bennett, Director at Recon² and Research Fellow at Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub at the University of Manchester said. “We believe our technology is an important step towards achieving a circular economy for plastics use in the UK and beyond.”