Some years ago I went to visit a plastic recycling plant near my home. Since then there have been many innovations but this is how your basic mechanical ( as oppose to chemical) plastic recycling plant works.
Those of you who read my blog may think I am anti plastic recycling – not at all. Infact only the other day I was down at the plastic recycling plant, Home of Lynwood Plastics, in Halifax for a visit.
Here they recycle plastic into amongst other things
grasscrete (mesh to grow reinforced grass in)
plastic lumber (plastic planks that can be used in place of wood)
The plastic for recycling is mixed according to type. The number found on some plastic products indicates what kind of plastic it is.
Up to 5% of the mix can be unknown plastic
The plastic for recycling goes into a big grinding machine where it is broken down into plastic grains.
The grains are melted and the resulting black plastic goo is poured into moulds or formed into products.
The goo smells quite plasticky but not unduly so. The machine is closed but not sealed – you can open the door and look at the goo glooping into the mould.
They can pretty much recycle any kind of plastic – from wrappers to traffic cones – as long as they know what kind of plastic it is.
The plastic needs to be fairly clean but not completely so – they can recycle empty paint cans with dried paint inside or plant pots with dust in.
They get their plastic for recycling from businesses. It is not domestic waste.
However they could recycle food wrappers and yogurt pots if they were cleaned before hand. They don’t want festering food waste on the premises for obvious reasons.
Plastic can be recycled pretty much indefinitely.
Polystyrene can be compressed and recycled
It takes a lot of plastic wrappers to make one plank.
Black plastic products with a kind of marbled finish are recycled.
You can find out more about plastic recycling here.