Swiss masterbatch producer Sukano, has announced that its Sukano NIR-Black detectable masterbatch been certified according to the Cotrep recyclability test protocol and will be featured in the Citeo positive list.
Cotrep is an operational technical committee created by Citeo, Elipso, and Valorplast, that supports manufacturers in the development of recyclable plastic packaging solutions in France, while Citeo is the French company in charge of the Extended Producer Responsibility for household packaging.
Black packaging – including trays – has long been a problem at sorting facilities. At these facilities, sorting is done by automated technologies using near-infrared (NIR) optical sorters. These, however, cannot identify and separate plastics that contain carbon black, the most commonly used black pigment.
Sukano's NIR black detectable masterbatch addresses this issue, showing 'a very good efficiency in sorting on both trays tested, clear PET and black detectable PET’ according to Eric Westerhoff, sales director plastics recycling at Pellenc ST, where the product was trialled.
Inclusion on the positive list ‘gives our customers a guarantee of quality, backed by a well-known and standardized procedure adopted in France’, said Alessandra Funcia, head of sales and marketing for Sukano. And there are other advantages as well.
In France, a system of ‘eco-modulation’ applies, to address the problem of additives in plastic packaging which, while not hazardous, may be disruptive in other ways. These additives could, for example, make items difficult to separate at the sorting stage or even contaminate the material stream, making recycling and the production of high quality secondary material either difficult or impossible.
Citeo is introducing a bonus-malus system, where higher fees – malus -apply in respect of undesirable packaging and lower fees – a bonus - for packaging with a lower environmental impact. Among the benefits of products being tested by Cotrep and listed by Citeo is an exemption from the malus fee in France.
Sukano is not just focusing on carbon black colourants, as there are various other colourants that are also unable to be detected under NIR light at sorting centres, the company said. The company is currently working to broaden the NIR detectability concept to include and ensure any coloured product can be designed for NIR detectability.