Recycling plastic for reuse
31.10.2022

PET raw materials are very popular in light industry. It is produced on a huge scale, so plastic recycling is becoming a priority for many companies and a favorite topic of discussion for eco-activists.

The material is light in weight, durable and transparent, which is important for liquid products. Plastic bottles are cheap to make, can hold liquid for a long time, and do not deteriorate during shipping. PET raw material used for bottling:

  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks;
  • cosmetic and hygiene products;
  • water;
  • vegetable oils;
  • Medications;
  • household chemicals;
  • fuels and lubricants, etc.

Mountains of waste litter the land and water, creating a catastrophic situation. More and more people refuse plastic products, but this does not save the situation. However, there is a solution to the problem, and in some countries it is actively used. These are plastic recycling plants that give PET products a second life.

How plastic bottles are recycled 

In the early days, plastic bottles weren't thrown away. Creative people made decor items, toys and useful gadgets out of them. Over time, the fashion for such creativity has passed, and the container began to massively accumulate at landfills. Unlike other types of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is recyclable and is used to make fabrics, containers, furniture, and more.

Recycling technology consists of several stages:

  1. Collect and sort containers by color (transparent, green, brown and blue). The most valued raw material is plastic without dyes, as it can be used in the secondary production of preforms for plastic bottles.
  2. Remove caps, labels and other non-PET parts.
  3. Cleaning of raw materials with water from residues of organic and inorganic substances.
  4. Bottle drying.
  5. Pressing.
  6. Careful grinding of raw materials with removal of label residues along the way.
  7. Washing the obtained flakes and drying them.

Depending on the further destination, the raw material is stored in different conditions. For pressed plastic, air humidity and the density with which the bulk material was laid for storage are important.

Recycled plastic materials

Standard PET bottle processing yields flake flakes. These are small flat fragments of containers that are used for the manufacture of chemical fibers and other products. Products based on flex flakes are not used in the food industry, as they do not withstand high environmental standards. But from raw materials you can make parts for cars, furniture and other useful things.

flex flake granules

Recycling turns flex flakes into granules. They are considered more valuable material, and are more readily bought by large companies. The manufacturing process of granules consists of several stages:

  1. Recycled plastic in the form of flex flakes is washed in water with alkali added.
  2. Dry the resulting mass thoroughly.
  3. Crushed.
  4. Heated for plasticity, then drawn into thin threads.
  5. The threads are crushed into granules of a certain size.

The resulting raw materials are sold at a cost 1.5-2 times higher than the price of 1 kg of flakes. 

Where recycled plastic is used

PET raw material goes for further processing in one of the following ways:

  1. Blow moulding. Used to make bottles from recycled plastic. Transparent raw materials at a temperature of 10-50 degrees are converted into containers. Recycled bottles look new but are alkaline and have low impact strength
  2. Injection molding. For this method, granules dried at 120 degrees are used. The finished raw material is poured under pressure in special molds. It is often used for the production of auto parts, lighting system elements, preforms for containers, flooring
  3. Extrusion. High-temperature exposure to PET raw materials using blow or melt blown on special rollers at 290 degrees. The extrusion method produces films for the packaging industry and various heat shrinks.
  4. Thermoforming. Necessary for the production of packaging films and PET sheets. Their widespread use can be seen in every supermarket or pharmacy.

People are constantly wondering what can be made from recycled plastic. Experiments in this field led to the emergence of synthetic fibers. They are widely used for the production of winter insulated fabrics, bedding, sports uniforms and casual wear. Carpets are woven from plastic fibers, non-woven materials, ropes and packaging tapes are made.

Crushed PET raw material is used for building materials, paving slabs with curbs, and even as a road surface. Recycled bottles are turned into boxes, manholes, sporting goods, bags, pipes, furniture, stationery. Even bicycles are made of plastic, with a lightweight, durable frame that does not rust in high humidity.

PET is an excellent material for 3D printing and CNC machining. During heating, the material does not emit harmful substances into the atmosphere, which means it does not spoil human health. Using recycled bottles saves up to 40% of energy for the production of new things and reduces the amount of garbage that pollutes the planet.