Plastic is a common material that is now widely used by everybody in this world. Plastic is used in many ways as it is light weight and compact. The maintenance required is little. Common plastic items that are used are bags, bottles, containers and food packages. Whenever you buy grocery, food or any other item from any store, you will use plastic bags for carrying them.
Uses of Plastic
Plastics are widely used in:
- Packaging industry
- Construction industry
- Disposable cutlery
- Storage, etc.
Where does the Problem Lie?
The great problem with plastic is its disposal. Plastic is made of polymer chemicals and is not bio degradable. This means that plastic will not decompose when it is buried. When plastic is burnt it emits harmful chemicals. These chemicals have adverse effects on the environment. Hence, the need of recycling arises.
Recycling means making new products out of the waste materials. All types of plastics cannot be recycled. If we recycle the ones that can be, the environment will be saved to some extent. Plastic recycling involves the process of recovering scrap plastic and this waste plastic is then reprocessed to form new materials that may be different from their original state. Compared to other materials like glass and metal, recycling of plastic is expensive and complex. This is due to the high molecular weight of the large polymer chains that build the plastic material. Heating plastic doesn't dissolve the polymer chains and hence a tedious and complex process is essential.
Different types of plastic cannot be mixed together because they phase separate. Such a resulting melting product cannot be recycled to make another plastic product. While making plastic products many fillers like dues and other additives are used. These fillers cannot be separated from the plastic using inexpensive techniques. This makes the process more complex.
Advantages of Recycling
Recycling plastic has many advantages.
- Use of non renewable fossil fuels is reduced by recycling as manufacturing new plastic materials require more of these fuels.
- Consumption of energy is also reduced as already prepared plastic is recycled for new use.
- Amount of plastic that reach the landfill sites are greatly reduced. This will eliminate land pollution to some extent.
- Carbon emissions are reduced as manufacturing units emit more carbon.
Inverse Polymerization Process
The common process that is used for recycling polymers is the inverse polymerization process where the polymers in the plastic are converted into initial monomers that were used in the manufacture. These chemicals are then purified and synthesized to form new plastic materials. Assorted polymers are converted into petroleum in another process. The advantage of this process is that any mix of polymers can be used. A new process generates heat from the friction of plastic materials which melts the plastics. This is then pumped into casting molds. The great advantage of this technique is that all types of plastics can be recycled.
Basic Steps Involved in Recycling
The basic steps that are involved in the recycling of plastic are;
- Step 1: Collecting plastic waste from households as well as industrial wastes as well.
- Step 2: Sorting the plastic waste in different categories such as PET bottles, bags, containers, etc.
- Step 3: The Plastic is cut into tiny pieces.
- Step 4: The tiny pieces are thoroughly washed for any dirt or unwanted particles on them.
- Step 5: The washed pieces are melted and poured into small containers for reuse.
To aid the process, plastics come with plastic identification code to identify the different polymers that are used in the manufacture of plastic. The process must be started from home. When you have utilized that plastic item for its use you can use the same item for something else. For example, if you buy a juice bottle you can use the plastic bottle as a storage container for reusing the pet bottle.
Everybody must also be aware of the recycling plant in the locality and must bring the waste plastic to the plant.