Headimage abstract

Better recycling results with fluorescent markers

The BMBF research project "MaReK" was completed with a pilot plant for packaging sorting.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has provided a total of 37 million euros for the research priority "Plastics in the Environment", funding 20 research projects that were to measure the input of plastics into the environment, analyse their effects and develop possible solutions. For the latter, researchers from the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences led the joint project "MaReK - Marker-based Sorting and Recycling System for Plastic Packaging", which was completed at the end of last year after three and a half years of project work. In terms of interdisciplinary cooperation, the project team consisted of two working groups from the university and the project partners Polysecure GmbH, Werner & Mertz GmbH, Der Grüne Punkt - Duales System Deutschland GmbH as well as the KIT Institute for Microstructure Technology and, as an associated partner, the Landesagentur Umwelttechnik BW GmbH.
According to the project participants, they were able to show that Polysecure's tracer-based sorting technology can be used to reliably sort plastics under waste management conditions by marking them with fluorescent tracers and to recycle them to a high quality. The result of the overall project is, among other things, a pilot plant for packaging sorting as well as a tested printing process for the labelling of plastic packaging. Several optimised marker substances would have also been made available. In the technology of "Tracer-Based-Sorting" (TBS), very small amounts of fluorescent markers would be applied to packaging or labels, which represent a separation feature independent of the packaging material. The markers would be stimulated with invisible radiation to visibly glow in specific colours, which would not occur under natural conditions. In this way, a much more precise separation would be possible with regard to specific processing methods. Hereby, high-quality recyclates could be produced that were also suitable for reuse in packaging. An application for funding has already been submitted to the BMBF for a follow-up project to develop an industrial TBS pilot sorting plant for packaging, among other things.

More information:


  •, (3.2.2021)
  • Photo: @ Jörg Woidasky, Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences

Go back