The NIRSort project is based on the successful previous work of the Luxus subsidiary Colour Tone to develop NIR reflective and transparent alternatives to carbon black for colouring plastics. The project aims to bring market readiness to a new range of colourants for polymers. The colourants will enable the current NIR sorting operations to segregate black and coloured plastics from streams, where none have been able to before. The sorting can potentially be done to a purity that the sorted plastics will be usable in high value recycled engineering polymers.
This will then provide both the sorting facilities, and the producers of polymer products, with the ability to meet their increasing recycling and moral obligations through the closure of the recycling loop. Landfill costs will similarly be reduced through identifying a much higher proportion of recyclable plastics, all of which is achievable using existing equipment and systems.
This project aims to develop and cost-optimize a range of novel formulations to replace the carbon (and other highly infra red reflecting pigmentation) in blacks and other colours, to produce NIR-reflective and / or transparent colourants that will be effective across all the commonly used polymers in packaging, consumer durables and automotive applications. The formulations will have carefully tailored reflective and / or transparent wavelength ‘windows’ within the infra-red that correspond with the key wavelengths used for discrimination by the NIR sorter.