How Is Recycled Plastic Made? (Part 1)

Plastic is a cheap, light, strong and versatile material used in many things we use daily. The problem is the ingredients; crude oil, natural gas and coal. These are the main ingredients, and, as we all know, extracting them from the ground has moved the world into a crisis. Recycling the plastic we have already produced is a way to help slow down climate change. What follows is an explaination of the production of PET plastic.


First, the plastic from our homes, schools and businesses is taken to a Material Recovery Facility(MRF). Collection happens through either the local authority or an agreed contractor. After initial sorting at the MRF, the plastic waste then goes to a Plastics Recovery Facility(PRF) for further sorting.


At a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), mixed recycling is mechanically pulled onto conveyor belts and then sorted. plastic is separated from other materials. Plastic might then go onto a Plastics Recovery Facility (PRF) for further sorting into the different types of plastic.
At the Plastics Recovery Facility (PRF), the plastic is placed on more conveyor belts and human beings manually remove non-recyclable items and contamination.
Then the plastic goes through special cylinders called trommels. Trommels look very similar to large washing machine drums. As they spin, the finer pieces of plastic fall through the holes.

Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC) screening takes out any cardboard left behind. The waste is passed over thick rotating discs making it jump. The heavier material falls through the discs and the cardboard floats across the screen.
Next, the materials are divided even further using a ballistic separator and then a magnet separator. The ballistic separator uses paddles to divide stiff(bottles, containers) from bendy(newspaper, plastic wrapping) and the magnet separator uses a conveyor belt moving under a magnet to collect any metallic materials.
The magnet separator only works on metals that contain iron. Eddy currents separators collect other metals. The currents produce a magnetic field around the metals, repelling them.

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