MECHANICAL RECYCLING

Mechanical recycling of plastics refers to the processing of plastic waste into secondary raw material or products without significantly changing the chemical structure of the material. 

TARGET USERS: Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Traditional physical or mechanical recycling typically grinds down plastic into smaller parts that are then mixed and molded together to create lower grade plastic products.

    MORE INFORMATION: See infographic: https://bluevisionbraskem.com/en/intelligence/infographic-how-does-the-process-of-mechanical-recycling-work/


    Collections: RECYCLING


    THE PROBLEM

    An estimated 75 per cent of land-based ocean plastic pollution comes from uncollected household waste, while the remaining 25 per cent leaks from within the waste-management system itself. The total amount of waste is growing rapidly. The World Bank estimates that waste generation will increase by 70 per cent from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016 to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050.

    With at least one third of global waste currently being mismanaged, it is clear that waste management systems cannot deal with current waste volumes, let alone the significant increases projected. While it is critical that every country has proper waste management infrastructure, the system at the moment is incapable of handling ever-increasing volumes of waste.

     

    THE SOLUTION

    Mechanical recycling of plastics refers to the processing of plastics waste into secondary raw material or products without significantly changing the chemical structure of the material. In principle, all types of thermoplastics can be mechanically recycled with little or no quality impairment. It is currently the almost sole form of recycling in Europe, representing more than 99% of the recycled quantities.  

    Waste streams that can easily provide clean plastic of a single type in large quantities are ideal for mechanical recycling and represents a win-win situation from an environmental and economic perspective: environmental benefits from substituting virgin material generally exceed the environmental burden from collection, sorting, transport and recycling operations, while the costs of such operations can be outweighed by potential revenues from selling recyclates on the market.

    Plastics and plastics-containing waste that cannot be sustainably mechanically recycled to the required standard from an economic and environmental perspective provides a valuable resource for other recovery solutions such as feedstock recycling and energy recovery to maximize the recovery of its embedded energy and resources.

    Source: PlasticsEurope.org

     

    ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

    Reuse models and chemical recycling.

     

    CASE STUDY EXAMPLES

    From waste plastics to industrial raw materials: A life cycle assessment of mechanical plastic recycling practice based on a real-world case study

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