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Unilever pioneers recycling solution for plastic packaging with new detectable black pigment

May 23, 2019

Unilever has announced the development of a new detectable black pigment, a move which the giant says could result in up to 2,500 further tonnes of plastic bottles being able to be sorted and recycled each year.

Unilever has announced the development of a new detectable black pigment, a move which the giant says could result in up to 2,500 further tonnes of plastic bottles being able to be sorted and recycled each year.

Equivalent to 200 London buses worth of plastic, the new detectable black pigment could replace the carbon black pigment traditionally used to colour bottles black. While the standard black pigment is undetectable by sorting machines due to infra-red recycling plant scanners being unable to pick it up, the new detectable pigment has been designed to be ‘seen’ by the scanners.

The pigment will be phased into the company’s TRESemmé and Lynx brand packaging this year, with Unilever having made the detectable black pigment available to any brand that wishes to increase its sustainability credentials.

Sebastian Munden, General Manager of Unilever UK and Ireland, said, “We’ve been working on a solution for black plastic for some time, and this move to using detectable black plastic in our TRESemmé and Lynx bottles means we will potentially be removing around 2,500 tonnes of plastic from the waste stream.

“Unilever has committed to ensuring that, globally, all of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to using more recycled plastic content in our packaging. For the UK & Ireland we want to significantly accelerate this and we’re proud our innovation will help us towards achieving our aim, as well as making a significant contribution towards the UK Plastics Pact targets. We’d like to thank our industry partners for their part in working with us to make this possible.”

As part of the research, Unilever carried out extensive trials with the likes of RECOUP and waste management partners Veolia, SUEX, Viridor and TOMRA.

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