Recycling of plastic 

Plastic recycling plays an important role in waste management and the circular economy. Recycling plastic helps reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills1 and the environment, conserves resources, and reduces energy consumption.  

1The landfilling of combustible waste has been banned in Switzerland since 1 January 2000. 

Here’s an overview of the plastic recycling process: 

Collection: Plastic waste is collected from various sources, such as households and businesses. The collected plastic is then transported to recycling facilities. 

Sorting: At recycling facilities, plastics are sorted into different categories based on their resin type. Common types of plastic include PET (polyethylene terephthalate), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), PVC (polyvinyl chloride), LDPE (low-density polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), and PS (polystyrene). Sorting is typically done manually or with the help of automated machines. 

Cleaning: After sorting, the plastic is cleaned to remove any contaminants, such as labels, caps, food residue, and other impurities. This is an essential step to ensure the quality of the recycled material. 

Shredding: The cleaned plastic is then shredded into small pieces or flakes. Shredding increases the surface area of the plastic, making it easier to melt and process. 

Melting and Pelletization: The shredded plastic is melted and formed into small pellets or granules. These pellets serve as the raw material for manufacturing new plastic products. 

Manufacturing: The recycled plastic pellets can be used to produce a wide range of products, such as bottles, containers, bags, toys, and more.  

Consumer Products: The recycled plastic products are sold in the market and used by consumers. These products may be labeled as “recycled” or contain a percentage of recycled material. 

It’s important to note that not all types of plastic are equally easy to recycle. For example, PET and HDPE plastics are often more readily recyclable and are commonly used in food and beverage packaging. On the other hand, plastics like PVC and mixed plastics can be more challenging to recycle due to their chemical composition. 

Source: FEDEREC presentation at POLLUTEC 2023.
Source: FEDEREC presentation at POLLUTEC 2023.

Efforts are ongoing to improve the recycling process, increase the use of recycled content in products, and reduce single-use plastics to minimize plastic pollution and its impact on the environment. 

Participating in recycling programs, following local recycling guidelines, and reducing plastic consumption (by using recycled resins in new products or by limiting “over-packaging” in supermarkets) are some of the ways, those can contribute to the recycling of plastic and the reduction of plastic waste. 

What do you think of this article? 

Do you have any questions? 

Next article on plastic recycling – The different processes. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *