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Muslim Savin
Muslim Savin

Ecet Maths Material Pdf 114

Recycling is one of the most important actions currently available to reduce these impacts and represents one of the most dynamic areas in the plastics industry today. Recycling provides opportunities to reduce oil usage, carbon dioxide emissions and the quantities of waste requiring disposal. Here, we briefly set recycling into context against other waste-reduction strategies, namely reduction in material use through downgauging or product reuse, the use of alternative biodegradable materials and energy recovery as fuel.

Ecet Maths Material Pdf 114

Today, plastics are almost completely derived from petrochemicals produced from fossil oil and gas. Around 4 per cent of annual petroleum production is converted directly into plastics from petrochemical feedstock (British Plastics Federation 2008). As the manufacture of plastics also requires energy, its production is responsible for the consumption of a similar additional quantity of fossil fuels. However, it can also be argued that use of lightweight plastics can reduce usage of fossil fuels, for example in transport applications when plastics replace heavier conventional materials such as steel (Andrady & Neal 2009; Thompson et al. 2009b).

Approximately 50 per cent of plastics are used for single-use disposable applications, such as packaging, agricultural films and disposable consumer items, between 20 and 25% for long-term infrastructure such as pipes, cable coatings and structural materials, and the remainder for durable consumer applications with intermediate lifespan, such as in electronic goods, furniture, vehicles, etc. Post-consumer plastic waste generation across the European Union (EU) was 24.6 million tonnes in 2007 (PlasticsEurope 2008b). Table 1 presents a breakdown of plastics consumption in the UK during the year 2000, and contributions to waste generation (Waste Watch 2003). This confirms that packaging is the main source of waste plastics, but it is clear that other sources such as waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) and end-of-life vehicles (ELV) are becoming significant sources of waste plastics.

Recycling is clearly a waste-management strategy, but it can also be seen as one current example of implementing the concept of industrial ecology, whereas in a natural ecosystem there are no wastes but only products (Frosch & Gallopoulos 1989; McDonough & Braungart 2002). Recycling of plastics is one method for reducing environmental impact and resource depletion. Fundamentally, high levels of recycling, as with reduction in use, reuse and repair or re-manufacturing can allow for a given level of product service with lower material inputs than would otherwise be required. Recycling can therefore decrease energy and material usage per unit of output and so yield improved eco-efficiency (WBCSD 2000). Although, it should be noted that the ability to maintain whatever residual level of material input, plus the energy inputs and the effects of external impacts on ecosystems will decide the ultimate sustainability of the overall system.

Broadly speaking, waste plastics are recovered when they are diverted from landfills or littering. Plastic packaging is particularly noticeable as litter because of the lightweight nature of both flexible and rigid plastics. The amount of material going into the waste-management system can, in the first case, be reduced by actions that decrease the use of materials in products (e.g. substitution of heavy packaging formats with lighter ones, or downgauging of packaging). Designing products to enable reusing, repairing or re-manufacturing will result in fewer products entering the waste stream.

It is possible in theory to closed-loop recycle most thermoplastics, however, plastic packaging frequently uses a wide variety of different polymers and other materials such as metals, paper, pigments, inks and adhesives that increases the difficulty. Closed-loop recycling is most practical when the polymer constituent can be (i) effectively separated from sources of contamination and (ii) stabilized against degradation during reprocessing and subsequent use. Ideally, the plastic waste stream for reprocessing would also consist of a narrow range of polymer grades to reduce the difficulty of replacing virgin resin directly. For example, all PET bottles are made from similar grades of PET suitable for both the bottle manufacturing process and reprocessing to polyester fibre, while HDPE used for blow moulding bottles is less-suited to injection moulding applications. As a result, the only parts of the post-consumer plastic waste stream that have routinely been recycled in a strictly closed-loop fashion are clear PET bottles and recently in the UK, HDPE milk bottles. Pre-consumer plastic waste such as industrial packaging is currently recycled to a greater extent than post-consumer packaging, as it is relatively pure and available from a smaller number of sources of relatively higher volume. The volumes of post-consumer waste are, however, up to five times larger than those generated in commerce and industry (Patel et al. 2000) and so in order to achieve high overall recycling rates, post-consumer as well as post-industrial waste need to be collected and recycled.

Thermoplastics, including PET, PE and PP all have high potential to be mechanically recycled. Thermosetting polymers such as unsaturated polyester or epoxy resin cannot be mechanically recycled, except to be potentially re-used as filler materials once they have been size-reduced or pulverized to fine particles or powders (Rebeiz & Craft 1995). This is because thermoset plastics are permanently cross-linked in manufacture, and therefore cannot be re-melted and re-formed. Recycling of cross-linked rubber from car tyres back to rubber crumb for re-manufacture into other products does occur and this is expected to grow owing to the EU Directive on Landfill of Waste (1999/31/EC), which bans the landfill of tyres and tyre waste.

A major challenge for producing recycled resins from plastic wastes is that most different plastic types are not compatible with each other because of inherent immiscibility at the molecular level, and differences in processing requirements at a macro-scale. For example, a small amount of PVC contaminant present in a PET recycle stream will degrade the recycled PET resin owing to evolution of hydrochloric acid gas from the PVC at a higher temperature required to melt and reprocess PET. Conversely, PET in a PVC recycle stream will form solid lumps of undispersed crystalline PET, which significantly reduces the value of the recycled material.

Various methods exist for flake-sorting, but traditional PET-sorting systems are predominantly restricted to separating; (i) coloured flakes from clear PET flakes and (ii) materials with different physical properties such as density from PET. New approaches such as laser-sorting systems can be used to remove other impurities such as silicones and nylon.

Feedstock (chemical) recycling technologies satisfy the general principle of material recovery, but are more costly than mechanical recycling, and less energetically favourable as the polymer has to be depolymerized and then re-polymerized. Historically, this has required very significant subsidies because of the low price of petrochemicals in contrast to the high process and plant costs to chemically recycle polymers.

Most post-consumer collection schemes are for rigid packaging as flexible packaging tends to be problematic during the collection and sorting stages. Most current material recovery facilities have difficulty handling flexible plastic packaging because of the different handling characteristics of rigid packaging. The low weight-to-volume ratio of films and plastic bags also makes it less economically viable to invest in the necessary collection and sorting facilities. However, plastic films are currently recycled from sources including secondary packaging such as shrink-wrap of pallets and boxes and some agricultural films, so this is feasible under the right conditions. Approaches to increasing the recycling of films and flexible packaging could include separate collection, or investment in extra sorting and processing facilities at recovery facilities for handling mixed plastic wastes. In order to have successful recycling of mixed plastics, high-performance sorting of the input materials needs to be performed to ensure that plastic types are separated to high levels of purity; there is, however, a need for the further development of endmarkets for each polymer recyclate stream.


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