All You Need to Know About Plastic
plastic manufacturing industry has had a somewhat negative reputation when it
comes to its impact on the environment. Traditional manufacturing practices
that did not take into consideration its environmental effects were blamed for
its waste and harmful by-products.
Nowadays, improved manufacturing methods and technology have been
developed that reduces waste and harmful by-products as well as enabling us to
recycle many of the plastic materials used in production.
recycling refers to the process of recovering waste or scrap plastic and
reprocessing the materials into functional and useful products. The goal of
recycling plastic is to reduce high rates of plastic pollution while putting
less pressure on virgin materials to produce brand new plastic products. This
approach helps to conserve resources and diverts plastics from landfills or
unintended destinations such as oceans.
Recycling done properly will allow us to conserve non-renewable fossil
fuels (oil), reduce the consumption of energy used in the production of new
plastic, reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfill and reduce emission
of gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
What plastics are recyclable?
there are many different types of plastics we use today, only some are
recyclable. Currently, only PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), HDPE
(High-density polyethylene), and PVC (Plasticised Polyvinyl chloride or
polyvinyl chloride) plastic products are recycled under curbside recycling
programs. PS (Polystyrene), PP (Polypropylene), and LDPE (Low-density
polyethylene) typically are not recycled because these plastic materials are
more difficult and expensive to process.
The plastic recycling process
simplest of plastic recycling processes involve collecting, sorting, shredding,
washing, melting, and pelletizing. The actual particular processes vary based
on plastic resin or type of plastic product.
plastic recycling facilities use the following two-step process:
One: Sorting plastics automatically or with a manual sort to make sure all the
contaminants are removed from the plastic waste stream.
Two: Melting down plastics directly into a new shape or shredding into flakes
then melting down before being finally processed into granulates.
Latest advances in plastic recycling
innovations in recycling technologies have made the plastic recycling process
easier and more cost-effective. Such technologies include reliable detectors
and sophisticated decision and recognition software that collectively enhance
the productivity and accuracy of automatic sorting of plastics.
some European countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, and Austria
have begun collecting rigid packaging such as pots, tubs, and trays as well as
a limited amount of post-consumer flexible packaging. Due to recent
improvements in washing and sorting technologies, the recycling of non-bottle
plastic packaging has become feasible.
Challenges for the plastic recycling industry
recycling faces many challenges, ranging from mixed plastics to hard-to-remove
residues. The cost-effective and efficient recycling of the mixed plastic
stream is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the recycling industry. Experts
believe that designing plastic packaging and other plastic products with
recycling in mind can play a significant role in facing this challenge.
of a greater range of post-consumer plastic products and packaging will further
boost recycling and divert more end-of-life plastic wastes from landfills.
Industry and policymakers can also help stimulate recycling activity by
requiring or incentivizing the use of recycled resin versus virgin plastics.
Recycling in Malaysia
Malaysian recycling industry is fairly developed, and produces 1.5 million
tonnes of recycled resins a year that are worth approximately RM 4.5 billion in
revenue. High-value rigid mono materials such as PET and HDPE have a strong
existing recycling market in Malaysia as they are easier to collect and have a
higher weight and value per piece. Polypropylene has a wider range of accepted
materials for recycling including clear and colored packaging of food,
take-away food containers, and non-packaging items.
Malaysian government has recognized the need to create an EPR (Extended
Producer Responsibility) scheme to demand greater responsibility from producers
to improve packaging designs with less material and higher recyclability, and
to support waste collection and separation.
The recycling of plastics has become an
integral step in the manufacturing of plastics. The reduction of waste and
development of products that are environmentally friendly via its recyclability
or its reusability are paramount to plastics continued use and importance in
our lives today.