The Future of Recycling Black Plastic Packaging


How Shepherd Color is Changing the Recyclability of Black Plastic Packaging



One of the major benefits of plastic and a big part of its sustainability is that it can be recycled. The challenge is that the recyclability can be reduced due to how the plastic is colored, especially black plastic packaging.

  • Black is a popular color for packaging
  • The strong absorption of carbon black prevents the sensors in sorting centers from identifying the polymer
  • Black food trays impede the recycling of up to 10% of the plastic waste stream according to the Waste & Resource Action Programme?*

The light absorption of carbon black prevents sorting sensors from identifying the polymer, which means many black plastic containers end up in a landfill.


Shepherd Color’s black pigment chemistry makes room for change! Our Arctic® IR reflective pigments do not absorb the light from the emitter and the detector determines the type of plastic so it can be sorted and recycled.

The Shepherd Color Company has spent the last 40 years developing, optimizing, and manufacturing IR black pigments.

  • Our technical laboratories can answer specific IR technology questions
  • Regulatory Affairs specialists assist in navigating the complex food contact application requirements

Our two products that are optimized for IR sorting of plastics are Black 10F925 and Black 10F951, both C.I. Pigment Brown 29.



Regulatory approvals include:

  • BfR
  • AP(89)1
  • AS 2070-1999
  • FDA Food Contact Notification (FCN) #002206

Not listed, but meets purity requirements:

  • French Positive List
  • GB9685-2016

*To view the report, visit and search for ‘NIR Detectable Black Plastic Packaging’

Contact us to learn more about these pigments!


Founded in 1981, The Shepherd Color Company produces a wide range of high-performance Complex Inorganic Color Pigments (CICPs) used in a variety of industries. These pigments are an extraordinary class of inorganic pigments that offer stable, long-lasting color for many applications. They have unbeatable weatherability, heat and chemical resistance, are non-warping and easy to disperse. More Expertise. Better Performance. Best Value. That’s Shepherd Color. We brighten lives. Follow us on LinkedIn!