Industrial plastic recycling is a subject that many businesses are wary of. As a business leader you may find you’re asking yourself, “is it possible to recycle plastic on a large scale?” or “how would recycling my plastic waste benefit me?” In this blog post I talk about ways in which industrial plastic waste can be recycled on a large scale in order to make your business money and save you valuable workspace.
Your part in industrial plastic recycling
With each month passing there is a new layer added to the plastic waste debate. There are so many viewpoints to consider: the consumer, marine and wildlife, companies using plastic, the government. But everyone is now joining in their efforts to tackle the issues head on and wage a war on plastic waste. Now we know the effect that plastic is having on our planet and in particular our seas and marine life, we are viewing plastic in a completely different light.
Everyone has their part to play, and everyone wants to help now. Whether you’re a plastic packaging company that needs to look at using a different material, a consumer who wants to stop using straws or a recycling firm who wants to find the perfect solution for recycling plastic to sell on, there is something in it for everyone. Our green conscience has really kicked in and the time is now to be innovative in terms of ideas when considering plastic in manufacturing and recycling in order for things to really turn around.
The demise and downfall of plastic
The history of plastic is one which half a century ago was the hero of packaging, a solution to keeping food transported across the globe fresh for as long as possible. And more recently, the answer to quickly wiping babies’ bottoms and toddler’s mouths. How has it gone from being a modern-day solution to our convenience lifestyle to a word which only has to be uttered and is met with looks of contempt, guilt and sadness?
The eight million tonnes of it ending up in our oceans each year is the reason why. This colossal amount is devastating marine life and is ending up in in the food chain and our stomachs via micro plastics that are eaten by smaller fish. The ‘fatberg’s recently found in London’s sewer networks are becoming more of a common problem, thanks to the baby wipe obsession the UK has. If people disposed of straws, baby wipes, nappies and plastic bags in the proper way so via a waste bin that would mean the impact wouldn’t be so large.
But, wouldn’t it be better if we could recycle the plastic that we have waiting in piles around the UK at the moment and better still, reduce the amount of plastic being used and ensure that all plastic is reused in the future.
The future of plastic packaging
Unilever and ten other major global companies who are part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and collectively are responsible for more than 6 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, announced their plan to reach a status of 100% reusable, recyclable of compostable packaging by 2025. France has also made an ambitious commitment to recycle 100% of its plastic by 2025. That’s not far off and means the future of a world without plastic waste is just ahead.
But what will be in the place of regular plastic food packaging? Evian and Ecover have pledged to use recycled plastic in 100% of their bottles and Ecover will trial new, non-plastic, fully biodegradable materials that are still recyclable. Black plastic waste is to be phased out too.
People’s perceptions of recycling black plastic is that lasers used by waste recycling machines can’t sense the colour effectively and therefore they are not identified for recycling. There are in fact separators and sorters that can identify black plastics and separate mixed recycling efficiently. Think about the possibilities…if your business was able to effectively sort, shred and recycle black plastic, you’d be onto a winner. With the right machinery this is a reality.
Find your fortune in industrial plastic recycling
Mixing, melting, moulding and burning waste materials is not the way to a healthy, unpolluted planet. But, there are some profitable means of recycling plastic and reusing it. One company is using plastic waste as a resource for businesses in India, which is using artificial intelligence and robotics to reduce the cost of recycling.
The Plastics Innovation Prize which is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, challenges entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and designers to work to eliminate plastics packaging waste. Anyone who finds or develops a new method of recycling plastic or invents a new material that is recyclable will be part of a new wave of technology and will definitely find their fortune.
I won’t go into this too much as it’s quite a different topic but a lot can be learnt from the WEEE and electronic recycling industry. Due to the amount of devices we all own now, (there’s an estimated 50 billion devices expected to be in use across the planet by 2020) and dispose of as they become out of fashion and slow, there is also a gap here to exploit the gold, silver and aluminium and other valuable materials that can be found within various smartphones and tablets. This untapped market is estimated at $55 billion. Learn about WEEE shredding machinery here.
Again, if companies can look at how best to collect, sort, shred or size reduce and recycle these components a lot could be gained.
Waste management infrastructure, community engagements and policy incentives all need to be revolutionised in order to reverse the effects that plastic has had on our environment and to create a system for the future that won’t create pollution or spoil our oceans and harm wildlife. It is possible, we just need to be organised and have the right tools.
If you want to talk to us about plastic recycling and how we can help your business become more efficient in recycling, do give us a call on 01622 79414 or visit our contact us page. Browse our range of plastic shredders HERE, including the WKS, Spider and WLK series.
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