Marker based sorting and recycling system for plastic packaging

At the core of the new sorting system is the so-called „Tracer-Based Sorting (TBS)“. By means of this technology, developed and patented by project partner Polysecure, plastic packaging sorting clearly exceeds conventional sorting approaches. Packaging can thus be sorted according to significantly more differentiated criteria than the conventional plastic type sorting that is currently available.
To this end research partner KIT is further developing the fluorescence marker substances being employed in the project. Yet, the overall objective is the pilot application under technical conditions: In a first step, marker substances will be added to packaging materials or labels of the packaging of the brands FROSCH and EMSAL from project partner Werner & Mertz. The high-tech marker substance shows fluorescent properties when irradiated with a specific kind of light during the sorting process. The sorting machine to be developed and built by Polysecure in Freiburg is exploiting this effect for packaging identification and sorting of the marked objects. In this way plastic waste can be separated and can be specifically recycled – independently of form, colour and contamination.
Within the scope of the research project the entire recycling process will be analysed and further developed. On the one hand, marker materials and application areas of the retrieved secondary raw materials are assessed, and on the other hand the project partners are working together to optimize the waste management. Moreover, the innovation effects of the technology in the market environment is observed.
This interdisciplinary collaboration will provide the basis for an increase in material recycling of plastic packaging in the sense of the safeguarding of raw materials and reducing environmental hazards in Germany.

Project Leader

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Lang-Koetz
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Woidasky

Project Duration

2017 - 2019

Public Funding

funded by Ministry of Education and Research, part of the flagship initiative Green Economy, within the BMBF-framework programme “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA³)

Reference No.


Project Partner

  • Polysecure GmbH (Freiburg)
  • Werner & Mertz GmbH (Mainz)
  • Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (Köln)
  • Institut für Mikrostrukturtechnik des Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
  • die Unterauftragnehmer CMO-SYS GmbH und Nägele Mechanik GmbH
  • assoziierter Partner: Umwelttechnik BW GmbH (Landesagentur für Umwelttechnik und Ressourceneffizienz Baden-Württemberg)

Project Organization

Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC), Pforzheim University

Project Website