Transformational
thinking

Black plastic is not fantastic

24 February, 2020

BP has developed a new technology to recycle previously unrecyclable plastics.

The move from BP Infinia will divert billions of coloured polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and food trays away from landfill and incineration. This got us thinking – why not just stop using coloured plastic altogether? Who needs a black food tray when any other colour is just as good?

Black plastic, mostly found in microwaveable meals, is one plastic that’s not currently recyclable, which BP Infinia is set to change. Black plastic gets its colour from being dyed with carbon black pigments, and it’s these pigments that stop the plastic from being recycled in the UK, as most recycling plant sensors can’t identify and remove black plastic from the conveyor belt. Most of it therefore goes to landfill, if we’re lucky; or into the ocean, if we aren’t.

So while, on paper, this is a sustainability success story, really all that was needed was a mindset-shift rather than a whole new energy-intensive technology to solve the problem.

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