PolyMet project receives 800K grant from Innovate UK

Black plastic food packaging is difficult to identify in reycling streams

Innovate UK has provided £800,000 in new funding for the PolyMet project. The project will investigate ways to add value to currently unrecyclable coloured plastic.

The Innovate UK grant will support development and marketing for PolyMet technologies, which aims to be the first commercially-accessible process for removing the pigment in coloured rigid plastics without destroying the polymer.

The new process could create a new market for low-value, unrecycled plastics through the production of reusable plastic feedstock.

The target plastics include those which cannot be identified in recycling plants. As such, they pass through the system and are either incinerated or go to landfill.

With the pigment removed, the polymer can be reincorporated into the plastic manufacturing process as a high-value recyclate.

The PolyMet collaboration involves four organisations: recycling compliance scheme Ecosurety; plastics innovation specialist Impact Solutions; recycling specialists Impact Recycling, and; injection moulder McLaren Plastics.

Tom Rose, innovation manager at Impact Solutions commented: “Finding a solution to the 3.5m tonnes of plastic material currently being dumped in landfill by the UK each year was a challenge we couldn’t resist.”

Looking forward, the group plans to develop a low-cost technology which can easily be incorporated into existing recycling facilities.