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Plastics & Resins Blog

The Plastics & Resins Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about polymers, films, foams, engineered components, green plastics, composites, mold making and anything else related to the plastics field. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

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Waste Not…

Posted November 02, 2011 7:20 AM

According to a stunning Columbia University study, the United States is literally throwing away energy, in the form of non-recycled plastics. They estimate that 85.8% of all plastic is landfilled in the 50 states. That's enough to run 6 million cars for a year, or power over 16 million homes with electricity for a year.

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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Adelaide
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Re: Waste Not…

11/02/2011 10:57 PM

I've often wondered would it be possible to dissolve plastics in a suitable solvent then blend it back in with raw crude (or appropriate fraction) for reprocessing? Lot's of potential energy sitting there.

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In reply to #1

Re: Waste Not…

11/03/2011 8:30 AM

Polyolefins, by their nature, will not dissolve in any solvent that would be useful in this respect.

I think that the main problem is segregation of the different polymers.

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Join Date: Dec 2011
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Re: Waste Not…

12/09/2011 1:11 PM

One thing that is OK about this is that in the future, we'll be able to trawl the oceans and mine the landfills for our materials. Instead of wasting time, materials and energy making virgin resins, there will be a time in the future when it will be more profitable to recycle than it is to start fresh.

The other thing is that if the recycling process can be kept in a closed loop, it will be possible to harvest the chemicals that are used in the process. Many of the toxic byproducts of certain plastic recycling processes are actually industrial chemicals that are in high demand in other industries.

The trick is learning to sort out the soup. You can rest assured, though, that there are people working on this, and that ironically, the plastics industry will be the central body in resolving the plastics mess. It won't be in any punitive fashion, either.

It just makes economic sense. Today's waste is tomorrow's treasure trove.

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Join Date: Nov 2011
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In reply to #3

Re: Waste Not…

01/04/2012 9:35 AM

One of the biggest problems with recycling plastics is the lack of a closed loop system like is in the metal industry. Most plastics end up in landfills because of this problem. If you come across a beer can you know if you pick it up it can produce money for you but what can you do if you come across a piece of fiberglass or a section of plumbing pipe? Some plastics are making this switch to being recycled, milk jugs can be endlessly recycled, and more of the composite and plastic industry needs to start sourcing the materials that are being collected instead of always using virgin materials. Virgin glass in fiberglass products can be replaced many times with recycled fiberglass at rates between 20% to 100% depending on the type of product. There are very few manufacturing plants that take advantage of recycling as an in house process in the future this will change as more companies see the need to stop sending their raw materials to the landfill.



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