The use of virgin raw materials is an increasingly expensive, less accessible, and ever less sustainable solution from an environmental point of view. More and more UK and Irish manufacturers are choosing to use recycled raw materials reaping the benefits such as minimum procurement costs, leading to immediate savings within the entire production system.
There are four main types of recycling process:
Primary recycling (mechanical recycling)
Extruding pre-consumer polymer or pure polymer streams
Secondary recycling (mechanical recycling)
Requires sorting of polymer waste streams, reduction of polymer waste size, followed by extrusion.
Tertiary recycling or chemical recycling (advanced recycling)
Comprises different varying technologies that convert plastic waste into an upstream feedstock resulting in secondary raw materials that have the same quality as virgin materials.
Quaternary recycling or pyrolysis (waste to energy)
Plastic waste (together with other forms of waste – organic etc.) are burned to produce heat and steam, which in turn is used to generate energy.
With over 75 years of extrusion expertise, Bausano has developed a new recycling extrusion line which will ensure proper control over processing conditions, allowing many polymers to undergo several cycles of primary and secondary mechanical recycling without the concern for loss of performance.
How can waste plastic substitute virgin material?
Secondary recycling is a kind of mechanic recycling and refers to operations that aim to recover plastics via mechanical processes (grinding, washing, separating, drying, re-granulating and compounding), thus producing recyclates that can be converted into plastics products, substituting virgin plastics. In mechanical recycling, plastic waste (sorted by material type) is milled and washed, passes a flotation separation, and is dried. The plastic flakes are then either used directly to produce new plastic materials or processed into granulates beforehand.
Reprocessing of polymers has been made possible thanks to the improved extrusion technologies but all recycling systems must be designed with consideration to specific polymer degradation mechanisms. Extruders must be built to include sections to degas, soften, dry and filter extrudate to improve polymer melt quality. In fact, the degassing sections are vacuumed from the barrel which allow release of a number of volatile compounds within polymer melts. Removal of such volatiles minimises hydrolysis and improves polymer melt odour to increase the value of recyclate. Polymer melts can also be, by screen changers, filtered to remove larger, non-volatile, contaminants such as dust or gel particles and improve blend homogeneity, mechanical and optical properties.
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