Unilever’s new pigment to help recycling of plastic packaging

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever’s new pigment to help recycling of plastic packaging
Unilever’s new packaging innovation could see 2500 tonnes of black plastic to be removed from the waste stream each year.

As part of the multinational’s UK and Ireland ‘Get Plastic Wise’ campaign, Unilever has pioneered the use of a new detectable black pigment so packaging can be detected by recycling plant scanners and sorted for recycling.

The company says it will be sharing the solution with other manufacturers and across industry.

The new detectable black pigment will be used initially in its High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) bottles for its leading brands, TRESemmé and Lynx.

Sebastian Munden, General Manager of Unilever UKI, 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.”

How will it work?

Unilever’s solution will enable TRESemmé and Lynx bottles to be detected by recycling scanners, with minor adjustments at the material recycling facilities, so they can be technically separated, sorted and sent for recycling, becoming a useful resource rather than ending up as waste.

Unilever has carried out extensive trials, in partnership with RECOUP and waste management partners Veolia, SUEZ, Viridor and TOMRA, which have proven that this new pigment can be technically detected within their material recycling facilities in the UK.

The new detectable bottles will be phased in during 2019 and will allow Unilever to further ‘close the loop’ and include the recycled black plastic back in new packaging further down the line, the company says.

In 2019, TRESemmé and Lynx will both introduce a minimum of 30% recycled material into their packs.

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