If you have done any studying about recycling plastic at all aside from just learning to put in a recycling bin, you have doubtless come across the growing debate and work on the different processes of plastic recycling. With plastics, all things are not created equal. Plastics with different uses often have wildly different chemical and polymer compositions. This means that they can’t be used for the same products and more importantly, can’t be recycled the same way. If a recycling center were to throw all the various types of plastics into one recycling process, the end result would be a mess of plastics in various stages of melting and would likely look much like a culinary sauce gone wrong with water and oil separation. In other words, scientists and environmentalists have to come up with different processes for plastic recycling to get the job done.
One of the biggest new and different processes of plastic recycling is the work being done on biodegradable plastics. It seems like developing a plastic that could break down like a natural product is impossible, but more and more advances are being made on a regular basis. So far, one of the potential problems with this kind of new plastic is that if it is mixed up with recycled plastic, the quality of the resulting product suffers.
Recycling companies, most notably in the U.S., Australia, and Japan are tinkering with the idea of heat compression recycling for plastics. This version of a different process of plastic recycling works on the idea of taking all sorts and types of clean plastics, and we are talking about plastics from grocery bags to hard industrial plastics here, and placing them in the same tumbler. A tumbler is actually what it sounds like. Its a gigantic rotating drum that is reminiscent of your clothes dryer tumbler and mixing the loads together. The benefit is that all plastics can be recycled this way regardless of their type. The biggest drawback is that this process takes a lot of energy to operate.
The world is still in its infant stage when it comes to safe, effective, and productive recycling especially when it comes to plastic recycling. A different process will help one type of plastic while it doesn’t work for another. Quite simply put it will take time, trial and error, and the dedication of a lot of people to get the processes where they need to be. In the meantime, its up to the everyday, ordinary people to continue to do the best job possible of recycling, reusing, and renewing.