Toyo Ink Europe Specialty Chemicals develops near-infrared sortable black masterbatch

Toyo Ink Europe Specialty Chemicals, a member of the Toyo Ink Group, has developed a whole new range of Lioplax® black plastic masterbatch for near-infrared (NIR) sorting and subsequent material recovery.

The new packaging masterbatch supports the recyclability of black plastic waste that is currently destined for landfill, thus helping customers to close the loop on the circular economy.

Presently, plastic waste sorting is based on automatic optical sorting methods with the majority of sorting equipment relying on the reflectance of NIR wavelengths.

Standard black masterbatches are typically produced with carbon black pigments.

Since carbon black absorbs infrared light, identification by optical sensors is impossible.

This results in undetected black or dark-coloured packaging waste being sent to landfill or incineration.

Addressing the recycling issue, TIESC developed a new alternative to standard carbon black masterbatch.

“Toyo Ink Europe Specialty Chemicals has successfully brought to market a sustainable alternative, enabling your packaging to integrate the recycling loop,” commented Dr Xavier André, Technical & Research Manager.

“Packaging using a new Lioplax® black masterbatch can be detected by NIR sensors during the sorting stage at material recovery centres.

"This allows dark-colour packaging to be sorted and integrated back into the value chain as a reusable raw material through recycling.

"Our NIR black colourants have been certified according to the Cotrep recyclability test protocol and have received positive results at both Pellenc and Tomra testing centres.”

The Lioplax® series of NIR-sorting black masterbatches are specially formulated for use in PP trays, PET preforms, films, bottles and other packaging applications.

Different grades are available in varying black colour shades, grades of resins (polyolefin, PET) and processing compatibility, such as injection, extrusion and blow-moulding.

The advantage for brand owners is that they can keep their black packaging market product codes whilst becoming more sustainable.

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