How to Recycle Plastic?
Plastic is by far the most commonly used material in the world. Many of the products we use are made of Jute and that’s out famous jute bag that we offer worldwide.
But when you think about it, plastics popularity forms a big portion of the problem and the reason why different communities and governments are having talks about recycling plastic. Instead of throwing away the plastic and polluting our beautiful water bodies and land, we need to find ways to optimise their lifespan by reusing and recycling them.
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Recycling plastic is a process that involves recovering waste and scrap plastic and taking it through another process of turning it into a new product. The fact that plastic is non-biodegradable makes plastic recycling important. Recycling efforts reduce solid waste and help save the environment in the long run.
How is Recycling Plastic Handled?
Plastics come in different shapes and forms, including plastic bottles, jars, plastic packaging, plastic bags, and industrial plastics. Since plastic is available everywhere, there are many plastic collection centres in the world.
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Many people have ventured into the plastic collection business to earn a living. Tons of waste plastic is collected and sent to collection yards where they are transported to processing plants.
Unfortunately, few countries have plastic processing plants. Most developing countries are affected by this. As a result, plastic waste is a huge problem in many of them.
The plastic recycling process commences with sorting the plastic based on colour and resin content. During this process, all contaminants are removed. Special machines are used to help quicken the sorting process based on the resin content, and the recycling mills sort the plastic by the symbols at the bottom.
After sorting, the plastics are cut into tiny pieces. They are then ground, and the heavier plastic flakes are separated from, the lighter ones. This step ensures different plastics don’t get mixed up during the process since they’ll be used to make different items.
After separation, the flakes are then washed with detergents to get rid of the hardcore contaminants. Then after cleaning, the flakes are passed through special equipment which separates the different types of resin. The flakes are later dried by heating.
Once the dry flakes are melted, they are moulded into different shapes or processed into granules. The heat during the melting process is regulated with special equipment to prevent damage to the plastic. Like chocolate, once the plastic is heated past a certain point, it cannot cool back to plastic.
After melting the plastic is compressed into small pellets. The pellets can be redesigned or reused as new plastic. Recycled plastic is rarely used to make plastic identical to the previous form. The plastics are transported to companies for redesigning while in pellet form. The manufacturing companies decide what to make them into.
Now that you understand the industrial recycling process let’s have a look at the different things that the plastic can be moulded into.
Recycling milk jugs and plastic containers
Containers and bottles used for shampoo, milk, household cleaners, and detergents are tough but lightweight. The plastic used is different from that of beverage bottles. You can recycle them to make plastic lumber, lawn furniture, picnic tables, recycling bins and playground equipment.
Plastic wraps and bags
We use these almost daily to carry groceries home. They help in keeping food and bread fresh. In some instance, they even allow you to carry your beloved goldfish home. The wraps can become plastic lumber, park benches, fences, backyard decks, and playground equipment. They can also be used to make new plastic bags.
Bottles used to package soft drinks, water and juice come in handy in quenching your thirst. The beauty of these bottles is that they don’t shatter when you drop them. They can be made into several things including t-shirts, fleece jackets, sweaters, sleeping bags, extra bottles, carpeting and insulation jackets.
To make plastic fibre than is enough to make a t-shirt you need about 63 bottles. And 14 bottles to make fiberfill insulation for a ski jacket. Insulation for a sleeping bag will need about 144 bottles.
Plastic bottle caps help to keep your soda fizzy and safe from nasty stuff like dirt and bugs. And though they are made from a different plastic to the bottles, the caps should be replaced on the bottles before dumping them in recycle bins. The caps can be turned into car batteries, storage containers, yarn, brooms, and garden rakes.
Plastic foam is 95% ait. It helps in cushioning electronics when they are in transit. The packaging can be recycled into picture frames, insulation and building material for homes.
Plastic is a menace and is killing our environment. However, if we all come together and help in the recycling, we shall beat it and even better, have the plastic working for our benefit.