Tuesday 18 June 2019

Quinn Industrial in plastic-recycling breakthrough


QIH chief operating officer Kevin Lunney. Photo: Oliver McVeigh
QIH chief operating officer Kevin Lunney. Photo: Oliver McVeigh
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Construction supplies and packaging business Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) has made a breakthrough in the production of food containers which should have significant implications for recycling.

At present, black food containers cannot be read by recycling scanners, which means that plastic ends up being incinerated or dumped.

However, Quinn packaging, part of QIH, has developed a new formulation for black plastic containers which are fully recyclable.

A patent is pending for the new food trays, called Detecta by Quinn.

QIH chief operating officer Kevin Lunney said that he envisages that this product will account for half of the company's business in four to eight years "if not more". The company's overall turnover is around €30m.

It expects that thousands of tonnes of black plastic will be diverted from landfill as a result.

"We have two very large retailers at the moment, which are in the Irish and UK market, which have been over here examining the options and they are looking very strongly to change their strategy and move towards this type of approach," he said.

Lunney added that QIH had limitations on its own capacity and was looking at licensing the technology: "We wouldn't be able to cope with all the demand if this takes off. We would have an option of licensing the product to other manufacturers."

New plastic is clear but the more it is recycled, the less clear it becomes and so a dark colour is the best for ongoing recycling of the material.

"From an environmental and ecological point of view, it's much, much better to be using black all the time. You get the benefits for food preservation, but also an endless recycled material," said Lunney.

QIH was formed in 2014 to acquire two of the key divisions of the Quinn Group; Quinn Building Products and Quinn Packaging.

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