Plastic recycling: how it works, earning possibilities, symbols to know, installation and phases of the recycling of plastic.
Once collected, theplasticit is pressed to facilitate its transport to the factories that deal with selection erecyclingof plastic for its reuse as "second raw material“, Or rather as a non-virgin raw material. From the collection of plastic, this is sent either to the selection centers e recycling or to the compaction centers.
The life of plastic in recycling plants
Thereplastic, once it reaches the factory in recycling, is inserted in a special plant which provides for the tearing of any collection bags. The first selection of theplasticof mechanical types takes place in a rotating screen that separates the various onesfamilies of plasticsaccording to their size.
Following this first mechanical separation which is carried out by the rotating screen (a sort of huge centrifuge), further separation takes place by optical readers that separate theplasticbased on the polymers of composition and any colors, in this case the separation does not occur with a rotary movement (centrifugal) but with puffs of air. At this point, a second compression with storage takes place where homogeneous packages are formed, given by the same types of plastics.
In addition to the mechanical divisions there are also manual ones where theplasticpasses on a conveyor belt and the insiders remove any materialsplastic modelsnot suitable forrecycling such as plastic toys incorrectly disposed of in theseparate collection of plastic.If you have doubts about how to differentiate the plastic, we invite you to read our guidehow to do separate collection.
Human labor goes to correct any errors of the machines, for example those made by the optical reader about the coloring pigments of the bottles, only in this way it will be possible to have a quality control to obtain a selectionplasticsuitable forrecycling.
Only after the plastic will be conveyed into a press that will give various bales of plastic material: PET (mainly given by bottles) in three different colors, i.e. colored, blue and transparent, high density polyethylene (mainly given by the detergent drums and various bottles ) and low density polyethylene (mainly given by envelopes, shopping bags and other industrial stretchable).
At the end of the processing there is always a part of non-recoverable plastic material, the so-called waste. The rejection is given by material mistakenly inserted in the plastic collection or plastic material that has not been unpacked. The waste will form the basis for energy recovery (waste-to-energy plant).
The phases of plastic recycling
The limit ofplastic recyclingit is in the first phase, that which concerns the collection. In Italy, compared to 450 thousand tons of plastic available every year, only 180 thousand must be returned to the recycling cycle. In addition, the machines available in Italy (about 40 plants) can process only 2 each year
-Storage and compaction
-Transfer to the selection centers
- Tearing of any container bags
- First mechanical selection where the discriminating factor is the size of the plastics
-Second selection given by the optical readers, the discriminating factor is the type of plastic
-Compaction and storage of bales given by homogeneous plastic material: PET, high density polyethylene and low density polyethylene
-Reuse of plastic as a secondary raw material.
Plastic recycling: symbols
The main symbols to identify for theplastic recyclingI'm:
Polyethylene terephthalate. It is indicated with the initials PET or the number 1.
Polyethylene. The high density one is indicated with the initials HDPE, PE-HD, the low density one with LDPE, PE-LD.The recycling symbol can enclose the number 2 (or 02) for the high density one or the number 4 (or 04) for the low density polyethylene.
Polyvinyl chloride is indicated with the number 3 or 03 enclosed in the recycling symbol.
It is the symbol of Polypropylene. It can be marked with the number 5 or 05.
This is the common Polystyrene. Reported with the number 6 or 06.
- The symbol O or the number 7 (07) can indicate, in a generic way, other recyclable plastics. This symbol can be found on plastics such as fiberglass, nylon, polylactic acid, polymethyl methacrylate and polycarbonate.
Plastic recycling, earning potential
Therecycling of materialsopens newbusiness. The most florid gains (if we exclude rare earths extracted from WEEE) are obtained with recycling metals, especially aluminum and steel. There is no shortage of revenue prospects for recycled plastics.
Therecycling of plastic in Italymoves a business of 700 million euros, with 2,000 professionals and over 300 companies involved.
Every year, in our country, 750,000 tons of plastic are collected and reused. Recycling accounts for 61% of the plastic material placed on the market, so these figures can still increase.
The reference point forrecycling of plastic in Italyand theCOREPLA, National Consortium for the Collection, Recovery and Recycling of Plastic Waste.
Municipalities and institutions organize theseparate collection of plasticentering into agreements with the COREPLA Consortium to receive a fee for the collected material.
In Italy there are about 40installationsselection of the plastic to be recycled. There is no shortage of long-term earnings prospects, however, for starting a businessplastic recyclingon its own, large investments are required.
Just for the machinery needed to complete the steps described above, at least five million euros are needed.
Another point of reference forrecycling of plastic in Italyis the Assorimap, Association of recyclers and regenerators of plastic materials.
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