5 Stages of the Plastic Recycling Process


Plastic recycling, a term given for processing waste plastic, turning old or scrap plastic into  useable products that can re-enter the manufacturing chain. In order for plastic to be suitable for re use in the manufacturing environments, for example injection molding, company waste or scrap plastic must go through several recycling processes.

Stage 1 : Sorting the plastic

To have success with this stage, it is very important for the consumer to learn the correct disposal procedures for their trash, and do all pre-sorting necessary. For example, you can take out the corks of bottles, caps or lids, making it easier for machinery to sort waste.

Plastic waste needs to be collected by the recycling company, once the plastic arrives at the recycling plant the first stage begins to sort the plastic into the specific types.  Plastic recycling is more complex than metal or glass recycling because of the many different types of plastic that exists.  In addition, mixed plastic cannot be used in manufacturing without delivering a poor quality product, therefore reasons why plastic recycling companies need to be thorough with its sorting methods, sorting plastic waste into different categories before going to the next stage in the recycling process.

Stage 2: Washing Waste Plastic

Once plastic waste has been identified and separated into one of its many forms the cleaning process can begin, this usually starts with washing to remove paper labels, adhesives and other impurities, all the labels on your plastic containers, bottles and even your wheelie bin need to be completely removed as these will lower the quality of the finished recycled plastic.

Stage 3: Shredding the Plastic

The shredding stage is when plastic waste is taken and loaded onto conveyor belts or directly into huge hoppers that funnel the clean scrap towards rotating metal teeth that rip the plastic into small pellets which are bagged up afterwards ready for testing.

Stage 4: Identify and classify the Plastic.

Once the shredded plastic has been bagged it is then chemically tested and labelled as to its exact specification, this rGrade of plastic can be used to add to a mix of virgin plastic in the manufacturing run, alternatively the rGrade plastic can be further recycled.

Stage 5: Extruding

This is the final stage in the recycling process of plastic.  This process involves melting clean shredded plastic and extruding into the form of pellets which then go onto manufacturing the next lot of plastic products.

Reasons to Recycle Plastic

Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in landfill when the vast majority of it can be recycled, it’s all too easy for us to throw away trash without a second thought but we need to take care of our planet and not just reduce the amount of trash we bury, but also given that plastic is derived from oil a natural product with ever depleting resources, it makes sense to recycling as much as possible. Recycled products are becoming more popular and important and are growing every day, as oil exploration moves to ever more hostile and difficult to reach locations, which will of course will result in prices of products made from oil to increase.

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