Irish plastic food packaging producer Quinn Packaging has launched Detecta by Quinn – a 100% recyclable black polyethylene terephthalate (PET) tray range.

Detecta by Quinn uses a unique black colour additive, which allows for easy identification for recycling sorting using existing Near-Infra-Red (NIR) equipment. This means that black PET trays can now be recycled.

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This development addresses long-standing concerns around the recycling of black PET trays as existing market standards absorb NIR beams, causing them to be unidentifiable and unable to be sorted for recycling.

Quinn claims the black recyclable PET range will lead to the diversion of ‘thousands of tonnes of black plastic from ending up in landfill each year, providing the first real possibility of a circular economy for black plastic packaging.’

Quinn Packaging new product development manager Thomas McCaffrey said: “In the last 12 months we have seen a growing desire within the food sector to move away from black coloured packaging. For Quinn Packaging this was short-sighted.

“If we are serious about moving towards a true circular economy, where food trays are recycled back into food trays, then the ultimate packaging colour to achieve this is black. The new Detecta by Quinn range overcomes the issue of identifying and sorting black PET trays for recycling and will hopefully help the industry to move towards a true circular economy.”

Norwegian sensor-based sorting solutions company TOMRA partnered with Quinn Packaging to carry out performance trials in challenging sorting environments.

TOMRA UK sales manager Steve Walsh said: “We are delighted to have recently hosted Quinn Packaging at our Test Centre in Germany, where we conducted extensive trials using the TOMRA Auto-Sort across all sorting situations. The results speak for themselves, the Detecta by Quinn trays proved to be fully identifiable in all respects.”

Irish packaging recovery compliance scheme operator Repak has endorsed Detecta by Quinn, claiming that it helps meet new European Union (EU) plastic waste targets.

Repak packaging technology executive Brian Walsh said: “The EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy has a recycling target of 75% for packaging waste by 2030. To allow us to achieve this we need a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, identify where problems exist and then work together to bring forward solutions.

“The new Detecta by Quinn product is a perfect example of this. Quinn Packaging has worked closely with both the retail and the waste recycling sector to develop a new black PET tray that can be recycled. A great illustration of packaging design for recycling.”