The Basics of the Plastic Recycling Process

You could choose to just put your plastic recyclables in the bin and forget about it. That is a perfectly acceptable way to approach the whole recycling thing. However if you do things this way, you are really missing out on an exciting and interesting topic.

The Plastic Recycling ProcessThe plastic recycling process begins from the time the virgin plastic is made, all the way through to the end, when it begins again as a new product after the recycling process. Most virgin plastics are made from natural gas, ethylene gas, or as a byproduct of petroleum development. Regardless of the system used, this process takes a lot of energy to complete and needs a lot of resources that aren’t a necessity to the actual process itself.

It may seem like an unnecessary step, but one of the most crucial aspects of the process is you. Yes, the people who take the time and put forth the effort to recycle are vital to the process. Without residents dropping off their recyclables or having them picked up by a recycling collection company, the recycling plants wouldn’t have any material to work with. As a consumer, its your job to make sure your plastic recyclable materials are as clean as possible. Many people are surprised by how much gunk in the recycling machines messes up the process.

Once the plastic reach the recycling center, both people and machines start the sorting and cleaning process every type of recyclable plastic has to go through. Machines called bales breakers are typically used for this purpose. Conveyor belts help to move the plastic through the recycling process. Its not uncommon for metal detectors to play a role in preparing the various plastics for recycling. Its important to note that plastics have to be sorted carefully. As anyone in the know can tell you, plastics of dissimilar composition don’t mix well and a mistake can disturb the entire recycling batch.

One thing that has to be understood about the plastic recycling process is that it varies greatly depending on the type of plastics being processed and the final shape and use the plastic is intended for after recycling. As you can imagine, the process to make a grocery bag is wildly different from the one to produce carpet fibers or clothing. There is nothing like seeing the process up close and personal. Consider contacting your local recycling center that works with plastic and requesting a tour to answer all your questions. Most centers are more than happy to accommodate your request.