The Importance of Plastic Recycling

Recycling consumes 88 percent less energy than producing plastic from waste, while still reducing fossil fuel consumption.

Plastics are a long-lasting, lightweight, and low-cost material. They are easily formed into a variety of products that can be used in a variety of applications. Plastics are produced in excess of 420 million tons per year all over the world. As a result, plastic reuse, recovery, and recycling are extremely significant in plastic waste management.

Which Plastics Can Be Recycled?

Plastics are divided into six categories. The following are some common items for each type of plastic:

  • PS (Polystyrene) – foam hot drink cups, plastic cutlery, bowls, and yogurt are all examples of PS.
  • PP (Polypropylene) - Lunchboxes, take-out food containers, and ice cream containers are examples of PP (Polypropylene).
  • LDPE (low-density polyethylene): Garbage bins and bags are examples of LDPE (low-density polyethylene).
  • PVC (Plasticised Polyvinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride): Cordial, soda, and squeeze bottles are examples of PVC (Plasticised Polyvinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride)
  • HDPE (High-density polyethylene): Shampoo bottles or milk bottles are examples of HDPE (High-density polyethylene).
  • PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Fruit juice and soft drink bottles are made of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).

Only PET, HDPE, and PVC plastic goods are currently recyclable by curbside recycling programs. PS, PP, and LDPE are normally not recycled because processing these plastics is more complicated and costly. Lids and bottle tops are also not recyclable. When it comes to plastic recycling, the dilemma of "to recycle or not to recycle" is a significant one. Some forms of plastic aren't recycled because it's not cost-effective to do so.

The Process Recycling of Plastics

Collecting, sorting, shredding, cleaning, melting, and pelletizing are the most basic plastic recycling methods. The specific processes differ depending on the plastic resin or the type of plastic product.

The following two-step procedure is used by the majority of plastic recycling facilities:

  • Step 1: Sorting plastics, either automatically or manually, to ensure that all pollutants are eliminated from the waste stream.
  • Step 2: Melting down plastics directly into a new form or shredding plastics into flakes and melting them down before being processed into granulates.

Plastic Recycling's Most Latest Advancement

  • Plastic recycling has become faster and more cost-effective as a result of ongoing technological advancements. Reliable detectors and advanced decision and recognition software are examples of such innovations, which together improve the productivity and accuracy of automated plastic sorting.
  • Another significant advancement in the field of plastic recycling has been the creation of higher-value applications for recycled polymers in closed-loop recycling systems. PET sheets for thermoforming in the UK, for example, have been able to contain 50% to 70% recycled PET since 2005, thanks to the use of A/B/A layer sheets.

A Few Quick Facts about Plastic Recycling

  • In Europe, 30 percent of plastic waste is currently recycled.
  •  In 2018, the United States recycled 3.02 million tons of plastic, up from 3 million tons in 2017.
  • Currently, about half of the plastics we use are thrown after just one use.
  • In 2016, plastics accounted for 12% of overall global waste production.
  • Degradation of plastics can take hundreds of years.
  • Plastics that end up in the oceans break down into small fragments, killing about 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds each year.

Henry Cruise

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