Project receives funding for developing invisible labels for plastic to help sorting

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Funding of £772,000 has been given to a project that could identify luminescent materials that could help plastics be sorted for recycling.

The Plastic Packaging Recycling using Intelligent Separation technologies (PRISM) is led by Nextek and also involves Brunel University, Tomra Sorting, CCL Label, Mirage Links, WRAP, Evolve Polymers, Johnson Matthey and Enlightened Lamp Recycling.

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Nextek managing director Edward Kosior said: “This could be the equivalent of an invisible barcode for plastics recycling.

“It is a significant step forward in the sub-categorisation of plastics which are sorted automatically at high speed.

“It enables new initiatives from brand owners eager to recover their packaging as part of the circular economy. Of course, it also provides a massive impetus for new businesses in the recycling sector.”

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WRAP has previously worked with Nextek on identification and separation trials, achieving 98% yield and 95% purity.

This next phase will look at optimising the system and integration with current near infra-red sorting systems.

The project will last for two years and funding has been provided by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.