Unilever Launches New Pigment For Polyethylene Bottles

Unilever has launched the new black pigment for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles that will make them detectable by recycling plant scanners and sorting machinery. The new pigment will be launched by TRESemmé and Lynx and will allow the sorting and recycling of an extra 2,500 tonnes of plastic bottles. The company has mentioned that apart from launching the bottles, it will also introduce at least 30 percent recycled content into TRESemmé and Lynx packaging. Conventional black plastic bottles that are reinforced with carbon black pigments are difficult to detect with the help of sorting machines in recycling plants as they tend to absorb the near infra-red (NIR) light used for sorting.

The new solution has been developed in collaboration with UK plastic recycling charity Recoup and waste management partners Veolia, Tomra, SUEZ, and Viridor. The company said that extensive trials have concluded that the new pigment can be detected within those companies’ material recycling units located in the UK. Jürgen Priesters, VP and head of business development at Tomra Sorting Recycling has said that the black polyethylene plastic packaging is easily detectable with conventional NIR units used globally and the material has been cleared several times and approved. Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland also commented that the company deployed an innovative software solution and invested in sorting technology at its flagship recycling unit located in Southwark as part of the project.

The new solution has been developed as part of Unilever UK’s commitment to the UK Plastics Pact and its Get Plastic Wise campaign, a five-step plan to deal with plastic waste in the UK. The company is working to ensure that their plastic packaging is entirely reusable, recyclable or compostable by the year 2025, and to utilizing more recycled plastic content in our packaging, especially in the regions of the UK and Ireland.