NIR detect colour range

ANL Packaging makes the recycling of dark coloured trays possible: our NIR detect colour range is CITEO approved!

Carbon black as a colouring agent has been under fire for quite some time now. Carbon does not reflect the light emitted by the NIR devices at the sorting plants, making it unrecognizable and unrecyclable as such. So why not just ban black coloured trays? Why look for detectable alternatives?

A lot of the clients that we have at ANL Packaging use dark coloured trays. This has various reasons. Some of them use a dark coloured tray because of the contrast it creates between the food and the packaging. This means that if the packaging isn’t in mint condition (angel hairs or chips) and food safety might be at risk, this is immediately detected as contamination is less visible. Black is also a colour with a distinct feel to it, making products look luxurious and ensuring a high-end feel. This is preferable for more expensive items, giving them the positioning on the shelf that they desire.

Various reasons and all legitimate from a producer stand of view. So, these clients still need a dark coloured tray but of course, one that is NIR detectable and thus recyclable. We at ANL Plastics accepted this challenge and started looking for a colouring agent solution that fits the description. We’ve received multiple solutions and tested them all.  The most challenging part was the hue when the packaging was formed. Using carbon gives a very strong and opaque black hue, the carbon black free agents were all translucent and have a colour shine, some being blueish others being purplish. The first step was consulting our clients for which alternative had their preference. The second step was testing internally whether we could still use our internal waste material.

Black plastic is the most inexpensive one because all other colour waste material can be reprocessed into black. That is why plastic producing companies like ANL Packaging don’t mind making black items. It ensures us of the re-use of all material that we have, no matter what colour it was. It ensures us of reprocessing 100% of our post-industrial waste, recycling 100% of all our material used. From our point of view, it was very important to retain this.

The final step was declaring our NIR detectable plastic. We’ve engaged in the CITEO protocol for detectable black plastics and passed all tests! This means that ANL Packaging offers carbon black free plastic that is 100% detectable and 100% recyclable. Our clients can still enjoy the benefits of using a dark coloured tray without having concerns on the recyclability of the material. 95% of our packaging is mono-material (R)PET or PP and now we have Citeo approved NIR detectable blacks and browns for every use. ANL Packaging, another step closer to true circularity!

To download the certificates here

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