The production process of plastic recycling

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El proceso productivo del reciclaje de plástico

As we have commented in previous posts on this blog, recycling the products we consume is a task that must be carried out on a daily basis in order to obtain, at a global level, a significant reduction of CO2 that will help us to slow down the current deterioration of our atmosphere (as well as other benefits that you can find here).

According to data from Ecovidrio, the entity responsible for the management of glass packaging waste recycling in Spain, in the Comunidad Valenciana a total of 84,043 tonnes of glass packaging waste was collected in 2020, which puts the contribution of each citizen at 16.6 kg/inhabitant (about 57 containers per person).

The treatment of plastic waste is fundamentally based on giving a second life to a large amount of plastic waste that we throw into the rubbish bin on a daily basis. In our country we recycle three basic groups of plastics:

  • Polypropylene plastic (PP).
  • Polyethylene plastic (PE).
  • PET plastic.

The production process of plastic recycling goes through a series of preliminary steps that depend on the type of plastic:

  1. Separation. These plastics must be divided in order to start the recycling process and achieve optimum results, but there is a great diversity of plastic components that make this task difficult. They are usually separated by type and also by colour.
  2. Shredding. The plastic is broken and shredded into small pieces.
  3. Washing. These pieces are then washed to remove any impurities that the plastic may have (dirt, stones, etc.).
  4. Drying and centrifuging. Your objective? To make sure that no external elements are left behind, apart from the plastic itself.
  5. Homogenisation. A mechanical process that achieves a uniform colour and texture.
  6. Extrusion. Through the extruder, the plastic is melted and moulded to achieve a uniform mass and, in addition, it is in this step when the colour can be added.
  7. Pelleting. The pellets are stored in big bags, thus becoming a new raw material available for a new use.

It is important to point out that once the pellets have been obtained, their characteristics are analysed to guarantee a homogeneous quality in all the products.

Once the steps that make up this plastic waste treatment have been completed, it is packaged, stored and sent to the fleet of transport vehicles to deliver the material.

Remember that with the plastic recycling process, we also distinguish between recycled plastic and virgin plastic, whose differences are mainly based on the PRICE and QUALITY of the plastic (see our post blog for more information).

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