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Novel Identification Technology for High-value Plastics Waste Stream (POLYMARK)
Start date: Jan 1, 2014, End date: Mar 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The POLYMARK consortium represent the SME communities of Polymer Recyclers. The EU polymer recycling sector forms a vital part of the polymer sector and has an estimated annual turnover of €2,500 million generated by over 1,000 SMEs. However, our members have a major problem. Within the EU legislation exists (EC/282/2008) that states that plastic containers that have been used in a non-food application cannot, subsequently, be recycled and used in an application where it will come into contact with food. This is not true for other major world markets (including the US) putting Europe at a significant disadvantage and therefore a solution is urgently required.Additionally, the food packaging industry is under pressure to use more recycled content but has difficulty accessing sufficient volumes of food contact approved recyclate. In our industry recycling employs a combination of techniques that have been used for particular applications with varying degrees of success.However, they are all inefficient and expensive because there are no easy, reliable, rapid, low cost methods of distinguishing one plastic from another.Therefore an opportunity exists to capture this, to date, untapped market by undertaking the project we propose. Our solution is different. Our idea is to develop a food container marking and identification system that will allow reliable separation of food contact approved from non food contact approved post consumer plastic waste. The novelty is that the plastic itself is coded for easy identification. The technology will also be applicable to other plastic identification challenges.As well as benefiting the recycling community and the food packaging industry, it will also have a positive environmental impact.

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