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Recycled Plastic Lumber

Plastic lumber is often the end product of the plastics (mechanical) recycling chain.

Which may go as follows

  • Virgin PET bottle to fleece or carpet
  • Carpet fibers to plastic lumber.
  • Plastic lumber to waste disposal plant – though manufacturers claim that plastic lumber can be recycled again.

This process is sometimes called DOWNCYCLING.

It is a versatile product especially good for wet or high risk situations and it is very easy to make 

Key points to note about recycled plastic lumber (as taken from the industry website)

  • Reduction of energy consumption by 66%plastic lumber featured
  • Production of only a third of the sulphur dioxide
  • Production of only half of the nitrous oxide
  • Reduction of water usage by nearly 90%
  • Reduction of carbon dioxide generation by two-and-a-half times
  • 1.8 tonnes of oil are saved for every tonne of recycled polythene produced
  • Lasts 5 times longer than timber
  • Rot and algae proof
  • Crack, chip and splinter proof
  • Insect and animal resistant
  • Non slip
  • UV resistant
  • Vandal Resistant
  • Less Flammable than timber
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be worked like timber
  • Holds screws and fittings well
  • Reduced Whole Life Costs
  • Diverting Material from Landfill
  • Reduces the carbon footprint of any project
  • Labour saving – minimal maintenance

Find out more at British Recycled Plastics

More on recycling here

Other ways to recycle and reuse plastic trash here

Recycling and  waste plastic – a discussion

And find more recycled plastic products here

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Whats that dot mean?

The Green Dot is a symbol used on packaging in many European countries.

It looks like a recycling logo but is not.

It is a trademark.

It is not always green. Sometimes it is black and white!

In the UK but has no specific meaning for UK consumers.

In Europe howeve it indicates that a packaging producer has paid the have a proportion of their packaging collected and recycled.

They have to. The European “Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive – 94/62/EC”  This applies to all companies whose products use packaging. It states that manufacturers have to collect any recyclable packaging they use.

Obviously most do not do this. Instead they pay a company to do it for them. They can then display the green dot on their packaging.

Frequently asked questions about the Green Dot® program.

Which companies need to comply with the Packaging Waste Directive?
All companies need to comply with the Directive if their products include nearly any type of packaging.

Can I come up with my own packaging recovery plan and avoid joining Green Dot®?
Yes, you can present your own plan for packaging recovery. This may make sense if you are very low volume producer with very few customers.

Am I required to join the Green Dot® scheme?
No. You are not required to join a program such as Green Dot®. However, the Packaging Directive requires manufacturers to recover their own packaging. Most companies find this impractical and participating in the Green Dot® Program is one way to meet these requirements.

You can find this very useful Q&A post here

To conclude

  • A licence fee is paid by manufactorers towards the cost of collection and recycling.
  • The amount paid depends on the material used in packaging (e.g. paper, plastic, metal, wood, cardboard).
  • Different countries pay diferent amounts for joining the the scheme.
  • Fees take into account the cost of collection, sorting and recycling methods.
  • A reduction in packaging means a reduction in the liscence fee.
  • Once the fee is paid the company can then display the green dot on their packaging and consumers will know that the manufacturer contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling.

We do not use this system in the UK. The Green Dot is not used as a compliance mark in the UK, but it is still a trademark. Anyone who produces packaging with a Green Dot, which is then sold in the UK, must pay a UK licence fee through Valpak Ltd.

Find  more on this and other international packaging signs here.

Better still buy unpackaged and take your own reusable bags

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Chemical Recycling

Chemical Recycling

patagonia jacketAnother way to recycle plastics, is chemically.

Here plastics are actually dissolved back into their original chemical components. These are then cleaned up and reused to make new plastics which, it is claimed, are as good as the original. At present it is a limited, expensive and problematic solution and can’t be applied to all plastics. Even so, it is already being employed by some companies.

Patagonia, for example, are using it in their Capalene base layer and fleeces. You can wear them them and then recycle these articles of clothing through their recycling program. It’s a very interesting scheme – read more about it here.

Other ways to recycle and reuse plastic trash here

Recycling and  waste plastic – a discussion

Recycling & Reusing Plastic – an introduction

This post is an introduction to recycling and reusing plastic non-biodegradable plastic at end of life. (also see Plastic Lifespan and Disposing Of Plastic ).

They include
Recycling
Transformation
Reuse

Recycling, Transforming & Reusing Plastic

Introduction.

What does recycling mean? Seems a simple enough question but I have seen the term recycled plastic used for everything from the mechanical melting down of waste plastic  to make a new products, to crafting lampshades out of milk bottles. Rather more controversially, it is also used to describe the process of burning plastic trash in waste incinerators and using the heat to produce electricity. The argument being that the plastic trash is recycled as electricity.

In the USA, Recycling is defined as “Using waste as material to manufacture a new product. Recycling involves altering the physical form of an object or material and making a new object from the altered material.”

Burning is called Transformation, which “refers to incineration, pyrolysis, distillation, or biological conversion other than composting.” They are very different things.” As quoted from Treehugger
You  can add to that
Reuse – when the original product is reused in a different way.
Recrafted or upcycling is the cottage industry version of the above.

N.B. Let’s be clear about this recycling is just a more responsible form of waste management. That stuff in your recycle bin is still rubbish and has to be dealt with the attendant environmental and financial costs. While recycling may offset these costs it is still expensive. Moreover recycling does not address the main issue of misusing plastic and stupidly using it to make one use throwaway items. The best waste is no waste.

Recycling Plastic

Resin identification code 2 ♴ for high density...

Recycling is altering the physical form of an object or material and making a new object from the altered material.

There are many different types of plastic. It is important to know what they are when recycling.  Most plastics are marked with a plastic code  or a number identifying the type of plastic. This information is used by recyclers.
Mechanical Recycling – very simply, consists of melting down the old plastic and using it to make new products.

Chemical recycling where plastics are actually dissolved back into their original chemical components. These are then cleaned up and reused to make new plastics 

Recycling in the U.K.

Recycled Plastic Products can be found here 5.21 Recycled Plastic Products

Transformation 

Plastic to Energy 5.4 plastic To energy

Reuse & Recrafting Waste Plastic

Reuse when the original product is reused in a different way. Like shredding trainers down into playing field surfacing. Find some great ideas over here 5.4 Plastic trash reused

Recrafted or upcycling is the cottage industry version of the above. Have a look at what these talented folk have done over in the arty crafty part of this blog   2.2 Plastic Crafts and check out my PINTEREST board. Lovely but by no means the answer.

Recycling is greenwashing ?

The focus of this blog is the plastic rubbish created by our addiction to disposable products. As a result I sometimes sound dismissive of recycling. While it certainly has a role to play, and is better then the alternative ways of disposing of plastic, it IS NOT solution for overconsumption of plastic. Recycling does not address the main issue of misusing plastic and stupidly using it to make one use throwaway items. Just because a product can be recycled (or upcycled), is no reason to create plastic rubbish.

Recycling and Reusing waste plastic – a discussion

The best response to plastic trash is to  REFUSE IT and find a compostable alternative.

All recycled plastic posts

Kedel Recycled Plastics

The Problems Presented By Plastic Misuse & How To Combat Them  Today plastics dominate our lives. We use a shocking ...
Read More

Recycled Plastic Lumber

Plastic lumber is often the end product of the plastics (mechanical) recycling chain. Which may go as follows Virgin PET ...
Read More

Swimwear Recycled

Well my Decathlon, unsustainable boy shorts have finally fallen apart and it is time to source some new, more ethical ...
Read More

Whats that dot mean?

The Green Dot is a symbol used on packaging in many European countries. It looks like a recycling logo but ...
Read More

Chemical Recycling

Chemical Recycling Another way to recycle plastics, is chemically. Here plastics are actually dissolved back into their original chemical components. These ...
Read More

boat powered by rubbish

Ocean Ambassadors Mr Midwood and Take Three, Tim Silverwood sailed into town in a boat powered by trash. "We put solid ...
Read More

Recycling plastic on the high seas…

Ahoy there me hearties! Have I got a project for you! These Uk designers trawl the beaches for plastic which ...
Read More

Recycling & Reusing Plastic – an introduction

This post is an introduction to recycling and reusing plastic non-biodegradable plastic at end of life. (also see Plastic Lifespan and ...
Read More

Gasification

Gasification heats the waste with little or no oxygen in order to produce a chemical reaction. The waste does not ...
Read More

Incineration

Incineration is to dispose of waste materials by burning them. The end results are heat, ash and gases. High-temperature waste treatment systems ...
Read More

Carpets – recycling

Recycling synthetic carpets is not only possible but cost effective too! Each year 400,000 tonnes of carpet waste is buried ...
Read More

Recycle your own plastic…

Just read this article in Recycle Reminders  about Dutch designer Dave Hakkens. He has just gone and made himself a plastic ...
Read More

Recycling… a post code lottery

I knew that council recycling provision and services varied across the UK but while I have been abroad, it seems ...
Read More

Which plastics are collected for recycling in the UK

Please bear in mind that plastic recycling is a fast moving world with new advances being made all the time ...
Read More

recycling rates down this year

...oh dear - NOT going to meet the 2020 targets and waste creation on the rise. It's one hell of ...
Read More

Scrubbing away

In my opinion you can use natural products most of the time but occasionally synthetics come into their own. This ...
Read More

Recycling Information on your products

Why so much information on my box of chocks? Well several materials have gone into packing those bad boys. The ...
Read More

Some U.K. Recycling Stats

Here are a few statistic to whet your appetite. There are plenty more throughout the blog. Our previous work had ...
Read More

Plastic recycling – the law

This is the law relating the use of plastic. I'll leave you to judge how well it is being applied ...
Read More

Mac Vities Recycling Scheme

It is almost impossible these days to buy unwrapped plastic free biscuit unless you live in Huddersfield where you can ...
Read More

 

Gasification

Gasification heats the waste with little or no oxygen in order to produce a chemical reaction. The waste does not burn rather the chemical reaction produces synthetic gases.

These can be burned to turn a turbine, which spins a generator and creates electricity.

As yet gasification technologies have ‘to reach an acceptable (positive) gross electric efficiency. The high efficiency of converting syngas to electric power is counteracted by significant power consumption in the waste preprocessing, the consumption of large amounts of pure oxygen (which is often used as gasification agent), and gas cleaning.”

Plastic can be regasified (?) along with all sorts of other products.

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Carpets – recycling

Recycling synthetic carpets is not only possible but cost effective too!

Each year 400,000 tonnes of carpet waste is buried in UK landfill

Increasingly, businesses, householders and local authorities are looking for better alternatives for the recycling of unwanted carpet materials. We help ensure that the growing demand for carpet recycling services is met.

Carpets are made from natural and synthetic fibres, which still have a value once the carpet is no longer wanted; they can be used in a wide range of applications from sports surfaces to insulation.

Carpet Recycling UK is a not for profit membership association working to increase the recycling of carpet waste across the UK

Check out the website

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Recycle your own plastic…

Just read this article in Recycle Reminders  about Dutch designer Dave Hakkens. He has just gone and made himself a plastic recycling machine that  combines “a plastic shredder, extruder, injection moulder, and rotation moulder to create bins, lampshades, candle holders, and other knick-knacks from waste plastic. “I wanted to make my own tools so that I could use recycled plastic locally,” he said.”

Course you did, who doesnt? And he is not just clever but generous. Check this out.

“He plans to upload the blue prints of his project online, so that people the world over can set up their own recycling workshops and create new products from neighborhood waste. He hopes that ideas generated due to crowdsourcing can help improvise the prototype.”

Do read the full article … and if you have any spare change…… And you can visit his precious plastic project here and see his other projects here.

 

Of course the best solution is not to make any plastic waste at all.

 

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Recycling… a post code lottery

I knew that council recycling provision and services varied across the UK but while I have been abroad, it seems those differences have developed into rifts of enormous proportions.

Here in Huddersfield we have a green bin collection for recyclables. However the only plastic packaging they take  is plastic bottles. Other types of plastic such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic trays, polystyrene, plastic carriers and film are specifically banned.

This does not mean these products cannot be recycled but, for a number of reasons, it is not always viable to do. As the British Plastics Federation explains: “Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, however the extent to which they are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors.” Their extremely interesting website goes on to note that “As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on. The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 24% is currently being recovered or recycled.” !!!!

If all plastics can be recycled, and recycling is the ideal option, why does Huddersfield Council only collect bottles? Well, while private companies might invest in the more esoteric forms of plastic recycling and undertake research, local councils, for technical, economic and logistical reasons, have tended to stick to recycling simple plastic. For sure some councils  do more than others but as  Lets Recycle notes “local authorities are responding to the pleas of residents to allow them to recycle mixed plastics, such as yogurt pots, but the practice is still relatively rare due to the volatility of end markets and lack of UK processing capacity for mixed plastic material. ”

Basically, you know where you are PET bottles, they are easy to recycle and there is a good end market for the recycled product. Plus the problems with mixed plastic recycling are many. For instance food containers are banned from many recycling schemes because dirty plastic can contaminate the load, the payback is low and workers don’t want to work with rotting and smelly food wraps. While plastic recyclers are working on ways to deal with dirty plastic, the new technology is expensive and the market for the end product still uncertain.

The other  problem is identification. To recycle plastic you have to know what plastic you are dealing with. Different polymers need to be recycled differently. It was in recognition of this that the plastic code system (where different types of plastic are identified with a number) was implemented. However this is not compulsory. Furthermore there are now more plastics then there are numbers with more complex plastics are being developed daily. A plastic recycling batch can contain 5% of unknown plastic and no more – so you can see the problem with recycling unidentified plastics.

It is possible to identify unmarked plastic using light beams. I came across this technology when I wanted some plastic film identifying. The company I used told me the process was extremely expensive and so only used for research purposes. Consequently, most U.K. based plastic-recycling plants tend to rely on the numbering system. Which limits where they collect their plastic from. They want big batches of known plastic not piles of unidentified rubbish. They usually take industrial waste and offcuts and, of course, the easily collected and identified plastic bottles.

To see how a pretty-basic, fairly standard, plastic recycle plant works you can read up on my visit to Lynwood Plastics where I saw them making recycled plastic lumber and buckets.

This is how it is in Huddersfield. In Sussex you can recycle all  waste plastics including food wrappers and unidentified plastic objects through the council recycling scheme! Though you are supposed to wash the food containers first, it must be assumed that the system can deal with those who don’t. And apparently the recycling plant uses light technology to identify rogue plastics. This works on all except black plastic as the darker dies stops the light beams from passing through. In short they have a new and state of the art recycling plant which recycles pretty much everything but polystyrene, fruit nets, blister packs, crisps, sweets, biscuit wrappers and pet food pouches. You can read all about their super-duper recycling plant

Recycle-get this...

Recycle-get this… (Photo credit: practicalowl)

here .

So are times are changing? Well the  government wants to “move towards a ‘zero waste economy’.” Which, as they explain, “doesn’t mean that no waste exists – it’s a society where resources are fully valued, financially and environmentally. It means we reduce, reuse and recycle all we can, and throw things away only as a last resort…. and some councils are better at it than others.”

Better than others? That is putting it rather mildly. Recycling provision, for plastic at least, varies wildly across the UK. Despite being concerned with the levels of rubbish produced, the UK government, unlike some other parts of Europe, has no standardized way of collecting or managing household waste. Nor does it specify how recycling targets should be met

Rather, as this recycling guide explains,

it’s up to the local authority to implement schemes suited to their area. Services and facilities thus vary greatly, from separated waste collection to the single kerbside “green box” system. Variation seems endless, and it’s due to the following:

Cost – Investment in new recycling facilities is expensive, so cash-strapped councils stick to established recycling processes, (paper, glass).
Targets – Statutory recycling targets are weight-based, shifting focus onto heavier waste streams (glass, metal) at the expense of lighter plastics.
Logistics – Collection can be problematic in rural (long distances between homes, scarcity of recycling facilities) and urban areas (limited space, tower blocks).
No nationwide framework – Industry bodies, charities and campaign groups encourage best practice but there is still a lack of government guidance.

Hmmmm. You can find more information on different recycle services here, and see how good your council is with this interactive map.   Karen Cannard is, as ever, a wonderful rubbish resource. You can read her post on plastic recycling here.

But of course the best way to deal with plastic trash is to not create it in the first place!

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Which plastics are collected for recycling in the UK

Please bear in mind that plastic recycling is a fast moving world with new advances being made all the time. By the time you read this, it may be out of date! Also when oil prices are low plastic is cheap and recycling is hardly profitable.

While most plastics can be recycled, not all of them are. As the British Plastics Federation explains: ” the extent to which they [plastics] are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors.” Their extremely interesting website goes on to note that “As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on.”

While considering this, it is worth remembering that the UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 24% is currently being recycled.

But just because these products are collected for recycling it does not mean that they will be recycled in the U.K. or even recycled as you might consider it to be.

The term recycling is used to describe a wide range of options including reselling to be recycled. This is a controversial process whereby plastic is collected in one country and sold to others for recycling.

It is also used when plastic is used as fuel in electricity producing incinerators.

You can read more about the different methods of “recycling” here.

Most plastics are marked with a plastic code  or a number identifying the type of plastic. This information is used by recyclers.These types of plastics are currently collected for recycling in the UK but check with your local governments recycling scheme for updated info or the bank locator on recycle-more.co.uk.

1,2 & 3

1 PET Polyethylene Terepthalate
Fizzy drinks Mineral water bottles Squashes Cooking oils
Recycling points are located throughout the UK

2 HDPE High Density Polyethylene
Milk bottles Juice bottles Washing up liquid Bath & shower bottles
Recycling points are located throughout the UK

3 PVC Polyvinyl Chloride
Usually in bottle form however not that common these days
Some Recycling points in the UK

4,5,6 & 7

4 LDPE Low Density Polyethylene
5 PP Polypropylene
6 PS Polystyrene
7 OTHER

Many types of packaging are made from these materials, for example, plastic formed around meats and vegetables. Due to the mixture of compounds these plastic types are hard to recycle and not generally recycled in the UK.

From recycle more

Read up about the different types of plastic here

The best response to plastic trash is to  REFUSE IT and find a compostable alternative.

recycling rates down this year

…oh dear – NOT going to meet the 2020 targets and waste creation on the rise. It’s one hell of a mess!

CIWM notes the disappointing trend in recycling performance across councils in England, recently released by Defra in the Statistics on Waste Management by Local Authorities in England 2012/13 report. This trend has been evident and commented upon by CIWM over the last couple of years and Defra now admit that this rate of increase is insufficient to meet the 50% EU target by 2020.

CIWM sees this as a direct result of the increasing financial pressures on local government. These are examples of authorities either pulling back from the improvements to waste services (e.g. introducing food waste collection), curtailing existing services (e.g. charging for green waste collection) or reducing their communications programmes. Taken together, the net effect of these spending constraints is showing itself in this loss of momentum in household recycling improvement across England.

 

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Scrubbing away

In my opinion you can use natural products most of the time but occasionally synthetics come into their own.

This is especially true if you are cleaning tiles. Here steel scourers can leave black marks and luffas and natural bristles may not be quite strong enough. A plastic scourer can be a god send here.

Look, someone got clumsy with the Danish wood oil and It sticks to tiles like a good ‘un. Here you need something strong enough to clean off the oil without scratching the wooden upstand. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I used the plastic scouring cloth… courtesy of Ecoforce.

It is made in the UK from 100% recycled fibres and the packaging is compostable cardboard.

Even better the 93% of the cardboard packaging is recycled materials. But best of all the display hanger is also cardboard and not an attached plastic hook.

All good points….

They also do a sponge scrubber – a scouring pad with a sponge backing. In their own words they “found out that every company manufacturing foam products have tons of clean, unused foam going to landfill every day. We rescue and grind up these bits of foam, compress them together and the super absorbent recycled EcoForce sponge is born.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had no call to use these so I can’t tell you how they perform, but I guess as well as any other synthetic sponge scourer.

However, this is a semi disposable product. Whereas pegs and washing lines ( see previous review) have a good long working life and can possibly be recycled, these have a much shorter life span and will not be recycled  – which  raises questions:

Is this a justifiable use of plastic that would otherwise be trashed? Well I suppose if it was going in the bin any way then yes… but talking of bins..

What happens to the finished pan scrub? How do I dispose of them? Well I can’t. As they don’t biodegrade I cannot compost them,  they cannot be recycled so cannot go in the green bin and  I don’t fancy burning them. So they have to go in my black bin to be collected and specially disposed of by the council. Hmmmmm.

So to conclude nice packaging, properly labeled, the product locally made from recycled materials; when I need a plastic scourer I would choose these.

BUT I would advise you to try one of the natural alternatives first.

You can find more pot scouring options here

You can read my other Ecoforce Reviews here.

 

 

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Recycling Information on your products

Why so much information on my box of chocks? Well several materials have gone into packing those bad boys. The plastic tray in which they sit, the foil wrapping, the cardboard box and the Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene -BOPP  in which the box is wrapped. They all have to be identified.

In the UK, the Packaging Waste Regulations require “packaging ‘sellers‘, organisations that supply packaging to end-users / people or organisations that discard of the packaging, to provide recycling information to consumers”. That means they have to say wether it can be recycled, not that they are obliged to use recyclable packaging.

This is also known as the Consumer Information Obligation (CIO).

Find out more about what is required of packaging ‘sellers’.

The Green Dot licence DOES NOT represent compliance with the UK Packaging Waste Regulations because it does not mean that the product is recyclable. Find out what the green dot means here.

More

Find out which are the most commonly used plastics and wether they can be recycled in the U.K.  here

Of course we say composting is the answer. If it don’t rot, don’t use it!