Novel identification technology for differentiating post-consumer PET streams

The Polymark Consortium has published its preliminary technical results outlining the successful development of food-contact approved chemical markers, a marking technique of the targeted packaging and a detection technology suitable for high speed sorting.

The three-year research project funded by the European Commission brings together stakeholders from the whole PET value chain with the aim of developing a new technology that will enable the identification and sorting of polymers, including PET, in the high-value plastics waste stream. This will help the recycling industry to more effectively distinguish between food-contact and non-food contact PET while meeting EU regulation on the use of recycled PET for food-contact applications. The technology can also be used for other purposes.

“After 18 months of work and a good project review with the European Commission in June, we are now pleased to present the first technical results of the Polymark project,” explains Patrick Peuch from Petcore Europe. “Our research partners have successfully developed a complete technology package. By publically releasing these results, in agreement with our Polymark Consortium and the approval of the European Commission, we aim to raise early awareness and to give unconstrained access to the widest number of interested parties for their faster consideration and longer-term planning.”

During the next 18 months, Polymark will focus on scaling up the technology to industrial conditions as well as on communicating the results and benefits to all potential users by means of workshops and trainings.

The report outlines the successful development of a prototype, flexible, coating-based approach for marking PET bottles, detailing the combination of suitable food-contact approved chemical markers and polymeric matrices used. Removal of the marker following sorting is demonstrated so that marker accumulation and associated potential for false positive detection in the long term is minimised. Detector technology suitable for high speed sorting was developed in parallel to the marking technology, and initial results in this area are also reported.


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