News in brief (03/02/23)

With news on: Polytag develops UV tag reading technology; Recycleye raises funds to ‘reinvent recycling’; BMRA welcomes single-use plastics ban; and, Biffa supports Cornish upcycling business.

Polytag develops UV tag reading technology

Recycling technology startup Polytag has announced it is trialling a UV tag reading technology that will enable the tracing of plastic packaging.

The company said the technology was developed in partnership with researchers at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

It is set to provide stakeholders in the packaging supply chain with access to packaging lifecycle data, including where and when it was produced, and the percentage of recycled materials it contains.

The company said the technology is set to provide stakeholders in the packaging supply chain with access to packaging lifecycle data

According to Polytag, the two-part technology consists of UV 2D printing capabilities and a UV tag reader, with both parts low-cost and easily retrofitted onto existing systems.

The technology is expected to aid compliance when the extended producer responsibility legislation comes into effect by providing brands with the data to easily ‘describe, tag and trace’ their plastic packaging.

Alice Rackley, CEO of Polytag, said: “We are driven by the belief that what gets measured gets managed, and that reversing stagnating recycling rates will require us to stop guessing and start knowing how much and what type of packaging is being recycled.”

Recycleye raises funding to ‘reinvent recycling’

Recycleye said it secured funding of nearly £14 million from capital firm DCVC to enable scaling of its AI-driven solution for sorting dry mixed recycling.

The company explained that the new investment will be used to further improve the accuracy of its sorting.

Recycleye uses AI-powered waste-picking robots to lower the cost of sorting materials. It outlined that its technology combines computer vision and robotics to pick with more consistent accuracy than a human. The robot is trained to pick an unlimited number of material classes such as plastics, aluminium, paper and cardboard, it added.

Recycleye installed an AI-powered robotic waste picking system at re3’s Reading MRF in September 2021

Recycleye noted it is working with a number of waste management companies, including FCC Environment.

Rory Brien, general manager of FCC for re3 in Reading, said: “At FCC, we believe in being forward-thinking, so investing in the latest waste sorting technology was an obvious choice. Recycleye Robotics is delivering the consistent purity in sorted material and reliable data that we need to run an effective facility.”

BMRA welcomes single-use plastics ban

British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) has welcomed the government’s move to ban a range of single-use plastics.

The association said that it hopes the step would encourage the use of 100% recyclable items, such as metal.

The new rule is set to be implemented from October 2023 in a bid to reduce the use of plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

BMRA welcomed the ban on single use plastics, set to come into effect from October (picture: Shutterstock)

According to the association, the decision is likely to impact the hospitality sector the most, with experts saying it will put greater emphasis on companies to improve their levels of recycling.

Commenting on the announcement, BMRA’s CEO James Kelly said: “We support any action the government takes to encourage recycling. By banning single-use plastics, it will focus people’s minds on the item they are using, and what viable alternatives there are that can be recycled.”

Highlighting the benefits of recycling metal, he added: “Recycling metal has limitless potential. It has unique benefits, as well as benefiting the economy, protecting natural resources, reducing energy use, and cutting emissions. The public can even be paid if the metal is taken to a metal recycler.”

Biffa supports Cornish upcycling business

Biffa said it has provided the founder of upcycling business Flotsam Flo, Kate Doran, with an office at its recycling depot in Redruth to use a studio.

The company explained that Ms Doran’s business transforms beach and leisure waste into unique handmade accessories. Ms Doran upcycles old wetsuits, inflatables and inner tubes into bags, purses, mouse mats and more, it added.

Kate Doran, founder of Flotsam Flo

According to Biffa, the former teacher launched her business after suffering a brain haemorrhage that made her re-evaluate her life and priorities.

Ms Doran said: “I started off using material I found, and then reached out to the local community on social media and people began sending me items to practice with, and it’s just grown from there.”

Ms Doran now has even more access to material following the placement of Flotsam Flo-branded wheelie bins at several holiday park sites, Biffa continued. Items are then to be sold in the park shop as well as online.

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