One of the most inexpensive, lightweight and durable materials on our planet, plastics are used in a plethora of applications. They play an incredible role in making our day to day lives convenient. Over 100 million tons of plastic are manufactured across the globe, every year. They are foamed, laminated, thermoformed and extruded into countless packages and products. However, along with the incredible benefits plastic offers, there arises the importance of responsibly recovering and recycling them. Let us proceed by understanding plastic recycling.
What is Plastic Recycling?
It is the process of recovery of plastic waste and reprocessing them to create products that are functional and useful. The goal of plastic recycling is to eliminate plastic pollution by taking out plastics from the ocean and landfills as well as conserve resources in the process. What’s mind-blowing is that recycling plastic requires 88% less energy than manufacturing plastics. Furthermore, recycling a single plastic bottle can provide a 100W bulb, enough power to last for an hour.
Types of Plastic that are Recyclable
Polystyrene – These plastics can include containers, plastic cutlery, and foam hot drink cups.
Polypropylene – They are usually food containers, lunch boxes, take-out food containers, ice cream containers.
Low-density polyethylene – They can include garbage bins and bags.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – Their applications can be found in pipes, cables, blood bags, and tubing.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) – Almost every shampoo container and milk bottle are made of HDPE.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – Applications of PET can be commonly found in water bottles and soft-drink bottles.
The Plastic Recycling Process
There are multiple plastic recycling processes and each one is based on the type of plastic or the type of plastic product. However, the simplest plastic recycling processes include the following:
The first step involves collecting plastic waste from communities.
Plastic waste is then sorted by their respective types and if they are recyclable or not.
Involves shredding of the waste into flakes.
After shredding, the plastic flakes are soaked in hot water to eradicate contaminants.
Involves heating the plastic to a melting point so that it can be processed into granules.
Involves the molding of plastic to form the desired product.
For effective plastic management, recycling is crucial. Increasing plastic recycling rates have not only boosted the effectiveness of recycling operations but have also managed to create public awareness. What’s more, recycling post-consumer plastic products and packaging are bound to boost recycling and help immensely in reducing plastic pollution.