Macpac helps Whitakers Chocolates divert from landfill with detectable black plastic

August 9, 2019

Packaging Solutions


Packaging manufacturer Macpac is setting the pace and the agenda for a new blend of black plastic shaping the future towards a full circular economy.


Whitakers, based in Skipton, is a family company with strong personal and commercial ethics going back over 130 years producing high quality bespoke and customised chocolates. 


With its values remaining true to the principles of its founders and a focus on environmental standards the chocolate manufacturer was looking to replace conventional black trays by introducing black R-PET (recyclable PET) trays that would be detectable in the sorting systems without ending up in landfill, therefore optimising on the company’s environmental record. With a UK multiple already looking to stock the product in the new black material, Whitakers recognises that this departure will be warmly welcomed by its customers. 



Each year over 1.3 billion wholly recyclable black plastic trays are used in the packaging of confectionery and foods in the UK with over 90% ending up buried or incinerated because they are not detectable by the near infrared (NIR) optical sorting systems in t manufacturing recycling facilities.


The carbon blended polymer in standard black packaging does not allow the passage of light through the trays. The detectors do not see anything – the black trays are essentially invisible to the sorting systems and end up in landfill or are incinerated.



Macpac’s Graham Kershaw commented, ‘The material blend enables black packaging waste to be sorted and recycled, significantly reducing the carbon footprint by providing a second life to the black plastic packaging rather than being destined for landfill.’


Whitakers was so impressed by the results that it gave approval, agreeing to run the new material for the packaging of selected confectionery ranges. It is hoped that the outcome will be to divert tonnes of black plastic from ending up in landfill each year delivering the first real opportunity of a circular economy for black plastic packaging.

William Whitaker, managing director, welcomed the new detectable black plastic, saying: ‘The adoption of the new detectable black plastic in some of our portfolio will mean we now have added value recyclable packaging enhancing our existing environmental values and placing us in pole position when it comes to recycling black plastic – it is a shining example of strategic buying, choosing packaging that is not simply greenwash but a serious commercial decision to stop our confectionery packaging ending up in landfill.’ 

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