Plastic is a versatile and inexpensive material with thousands of uses, but it is also a significant source of pollution. Some worrisome emerging environmental issues involve plastics, including gigantic oceanic garbage patches and the microbeads problem. Recycling can alleviate some of the problems, but the confusion over what we can and cannot recycle continues to confound consumers. Plastics are particularly troublesome, as different types require different processing to be reformulated and re-used as raw material. To effectively recycle plastic items, you need to know two things; the plastic number of the material, and which of these types of plastics your municipality’s recycling service accepts. Many facilities now accept #1 through #7, but check with them first to make sure.
Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastic and reprocessing the material into useful products. Since the vast majority of plastic is non-biodegradable, recycling is a part of global efforts to reduce plastic in the waste stream, especially the approximately eight million tons of waste plastic that enters the Earth’s oceans every year!
Compared with lucrative recycling of metal, and similar to the low value of glass, plastic polymers recycling is often more challenging because of low density and low value. There are also numerous technical hurdles to overcome when recycling plastic.
The percentage of plastic that can be fully recycled, rather than down-cycled or go to waste, can be increased when manufacturers of packaged goods minimize mixing of packaging materials and eliminate contaminants.
Before recycling, most plastics are sorted according to their resin type. In the past, plastic reclaimers used the resin identification code (RIC), a method of categorization of polymer types, which was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988. Polyethylene terephthalate, commonly referred to as PET, for instance, has a resin code of 1. Most plastic reclaimers do not rely on RIC now; they use automatic sort systems to identify the resin, ranging from manual sorting and picking of plastic materials to mechanized automation processes that involve shredding, sieving, separation by rates of density i.e. air, liquid, or magnetic, and complex spectrophotometric distribution technologies e.g. UV/VIS, NIR, Laser, etc. Some plastic products are also separated by color before they are recycled. The plastic recyclables are then shredded. These shredded fragments then undergo processes to eliminate impurities like paper labels.
The quantity of post-consumer plastics recycled has increased every year since at least 1990, but rates lag far behind those of other items, such as newspaper (about 80%) and corrugated fiberboard (about 70%). Overall, U.S. post-consumer plastic waste for 2008 was estimated at 33.6 million tons; 2.2 million tons (6.5%) were recycled and 2.6 million tons (7.7%) were burned for energy; 28.9 million tons, or 85.5%, were discarded to landfills. As of 2015, approximately 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. That’s 79% of plastic sent to landfills! Wow!
Regardless of what industry you are involved in, if you care about our planets’ environment, you must be concerned about the amount of plastics flooding our landfills. To assist in your desire for sustainability, please inquire about all of the attributes that our thermal waste conversion plant has to offer. We at AEPC THERMAL consider “sustainability” (suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee) to be the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.
“Alvin” is the name of our mobile thermal waste conversion plant, that is trailer mounted and ready for deployment. Alvin is many things, among them is; easy to operate, eliminates the need to presort (no expensive magnets and no messy shredding), breaks down carbon chains, virtually no environmental footprint, portable, and definitely effective!
To learn more on how our patented technologies may assist you in your commitment to the global community, call us today at 630-820-9444!
See below why Alvin is the industry leading technology in gasification!