Innovate UK has granted £0.8m for a four-way Ecosurety collaboration to create new technology that will add value to unrecyclable coloured plastic.
Ecosurety, a UK-based recycling compliance scheme, along with industry partners Impact Solutions, recycling specialists Impact Recycling and plastic injection moulding company McLaren Plastics are working on the PolyMet project.
The funding is intended to develop the new recycling technology called PolyMet, seeking commercially accessible process for removing the pigment in colored, rigid plastics without destroying the polymers and bring it to the market.
Ecosurety said that PolyMet has the potential to produce a reusable plastic feedstock that creates a new market for currently low-value, unrecycled plastics and mitigate the negative impact of colored plastics by diverting them away from landfill and into a circular plastics economy.
Ecosurety CEO James Piper said: “The long-term objectives of Impact Solutions – to develop a technology that can add value to a plastic contaminant – fits perfectly with Ecosurety’s broader vision of driving forward positive change through increased recycling capacity in the UK recycling sector.
We are delighted that the huge potential of this collaboration has been recognised by Innovate UK and look forward to working with Impact Solutions over the next two years.”
Colored plastics especially black plastics have a lower market value and most Material Recycling Facilities consider them contaminants since are hard to be detected by machines used in the plastic sorting process due to dark pigment and are sent to landfill or incineration as most cost-effective options for disposal.
Impact Solutions’ PolyMet technology employs a chemical process to remove the pigment from colored rigid plastics without destroying the original plastic polymers enables the plastic to reincorporate into the manufacturing process as a high-value recyclate.
The company said that using PolyMet in line with current recycling processes creates a significant new stream of plastic feedstock at high volume and low cost.
Furthermore, additional recycled plastic is incorporate into the plastic manufacturing companies’ virgin resin grades, to reach the 30% recycled plastic target recently proposed by Government in the packaging consultations.
The Innovate UK grant is expected to ensure Ecosurety provides support on the two year PolyMet project, offering market insights from its producer and reprocessor members. McLaren Plastics is expected to specify post-process material properties and validation of material suitability for injection moulding.
PolyMet is designed to become a low-cost technology that can easily be incorporated into existing recycling.