sicopal black additive
BASF says one of its black additives has received approval in food-contact applications in Europe and the United States.
Photo provided by BASF Colors & Effects.

BASF claims recycling breakthrough with black additive

Company says its Sicopal food-contact-approved black additive can help create sortable, recyclable food trays.

September 22, 2020

The Colors & Effects brand of BASF says it has attained United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) compliance to use its Sicopal Black K 0098 FK color additive into food-contact applications.

The Ludwigshafen, Germany-based company says the FDA compliance for Sicopal Black, which was launched earlier in 2020, joins its status in earning European Union food contact approval in April.

BASF says the product’s new FDA compliance “makes it one of the first recyclable black pigments broadly recognized for use in food contact applications.” Adds the firm, “The product thereby expands possibilities for recyclable black plastics materials such as food and cosmetic packaging, which up until now have gone to landfills or incineration.”

The chemicals firm continues, “Until recently, black plastic packaging was considered unrecyclable due to coloration with carbon black pigment. Even trace amounts of carbon black are undetectable by [scrap] sorting machines, and [can] disrupt the scrap sorting process at materials recycling facilities.”

By replacing carbon black with near-infrared- (NIR-) reflective Sicopal Black, black plastic items can be detected in the sorting process and then recycled, says BASF. “From sushi trays to takeout food containers, the expanded FDA compliance means many of these food contact articles can now be designed and commercialized as recyclable black plastics,” states the company.

“Either alone or in combination with other pigments, Sicopal Black K 0098 FK can achieve a jet black color, which is often sought after in packaging applications,” says Breeze Briggs, North America Technical Manager at Colors & Effects. Briggs adds, “As well, it can be used for shading in many different color stylings, thus avoiding the use of carbon black.”