What Happens to Plastic Once it is Put in the Recycling

Sorting plastic waste from binsMost plastics are readily recyclable. the UK gets through about 15 million bottles per day. Most of these are PET plastic. PET can last up to 500 years and can be recycled many times. Unfortunately, UK households are discarding over half a million metric tons of plastic every year. Assuming that a plastic bottle does find its way into the recycling bin, what happens next? A Valuable Resource It took a surprisingly long time for local authorities to figure out that plastic was a valuable resource and to start offering kerbside collection services. Once they took off, from about 2003, recycling rates boomed – proving once-and-for-all that most people are good-intentioned but lazy. Sorting Station The first stop on a plastic bottle’s journey from your recycling bin is a sorting station. Plastic is separated from the other recyclables – glass, paper and metal. All the plastic items go through a secondary sorting phase to separate out your bottle and the other PET products from the other types of plastic. Processing Plant All the PET products are squashed down, baled up and sent to a processing plant where the labels and caps are removed and the plastic is turned into cereal flake sized pellets for reuse. At this stage, they can be sent to a facility where they can be turned into polyester for use in clothing and carpets. If the plastic is to be turned into another bottle or other food-grade product, it will need further refining into smooth round pellets. Manufacturing Facility Your bottle is pretty unrecognisable – it has been washed, squashed, melted, flaked, melted again, extruded and formed into pellets. At a manufacturing facility, these plastic pellets can be formed into a tube of molten plastic (a parison) that is fed into an extrusion blow moulding machine where it will be reshaped into… a bottle. At Coda Plastics Ltd, we take recycling seriously. Not only do we recycle our own waste plastics, we also take in plastics from other facilities to use as raw materials. If you have a plastic manufacturing project in mind and you would like a company with good environmental credentials, please call our product development team on +44 1692 501020. For regular articles about plastic and packaging manufacturing, follow us on Twitter.
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