Plastic has been a hot topic lately in the UK, with the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic bags, imposed by the government to reduce plastic waste. A recent study published by Earth Island Journal predicted that 9.1 million metric tonnes of plastic waste would end up in our oceans by 2015, and because plastic is generally not biodegradable, it would cause great harm to marine life. As a plastic reprocessor, Berry Circular Polymers naturally supports and encourages recycling, and stands behind the UK government’s recent introduction of the 5p charge for plastic bags to reduce plastic waste.
Most plastics are recycled separately, as illustrated in the Berry Circular Polymers guide to plastic recycling grades, but there are several stages to this process:
Stage 1: Sorting
When plastic items are taken to a plastic recycling facility, they are first sorted according to plastic type. This helps eliminate cross contamination of polymers that would render a batch unsuitable for reprocessing.
Sorting machines are used to identify and separate large amounts of plastic. Advanced sorting machines can sort massive amounts of input using infrared, x-ray, or other cutting-edge sensors that can recognise a polymer’s unique signature and, in some cases, colour.
The most regularly recycled plastics include PET (polyethylene terephthalate), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). While some facilities can only process certain kinds of plastic products, Berry Circular Polymers' custom-built facility in Cambridgeshire can reprocess most any type of plastic, whether single polymer, mixed or contaminated.
Stage 2: Resizing
The next step is size reduction. During size reduction, shredders and granulators with industrial blades perform rotational cutting to break plastic down into smaller particles. This increases the surface area of the waste so that it is easier to process, reshape, and handle.
Size reduction equipment.
Berry Circular Polymers' shredders and granulators have trained operators and metal detectors at each shredding machine to identify and remove any non-plastic waste that might have been missed previously. This system ensures purity and quality of the final products.
Stage 3: Wet Separation
Next is the plastic separation phase. After sorting and cutting, the plastic pieces can be washed to remove traces of dirt and contaminants, which vary from paper and glue, to sand and grit, and mixed plastic types that can be separated in water.
Float tanks are commonly used to separate the plastic pieces according to density. Washers and water baths/tanks are used to remove contaminants in washing lines that continuously spray hot water over the plastic pieces to remove dirt and any labels stuck to the surface of the materials. Chemicals, detergents, disinfectants or other products can be added to improve cleaning and separation.
Sink-float technology is used to separate contaminants.
Scrap plastic at Berry Circular Polymers is processed by our washing and drying plants, capable of cleaning large quantities of plastic waste or scrap. We use a unique three-stage density separation tank that utilizes a sink-float differentiation process to separate polymers and contaminants.
Stage 4: Dry Separation
With dry treatments, plastic is differentiated based on air classification, sorting thinner materials from thicker ones. Apart from size and shape, plastic can also be separated by other features. Heat can be applied to plastic to separate materials by melting point, whilst fluorescent or ultraviolet light helps to divide them according to colour, or their ability to absorb light.
Optical color sorting machines can separate plastic by color.
Berry Circular Polymers' on-site separation plant uses the most advanced, fully-automated sorting machines to separate plastic by color and type. We can also handle removal of metal contamination, electro-static removal of wood, rubber or foil contaminants, de-dusting and sieving of soiled or dirty materials, and removal of fines.
Stage 5: Compounding
An extruder is used to pelletise plastic regrinds into pellets.
The final step in most plastics recycling processes is compounding. During compounding, machines known as compounding lines or extruders melt plastic regrinds down into pellets. While this can often involve the incorporation of different additives to transform the plastics into high quality, reusable materials, plastic is most easily distributed and remanufactured in pellet form.
Berry Circular Polymers' compounding service offers a viable, environmental-friendly, and more cost-effective alternative to virgin plastics. Combining advanced technology with our expertise and adherence to strict industry standards, Berry Circular Polymers can provide plastic compounds of the highest quality. We can match your precise requirements for a wide range of plastic polymers, including HDPE (high-density polyethylene), LDPE (low-density polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), PS (Polystyrene), HIPS (high impact polystyrene), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), and more.
For more information about Berry Circular Polymers and their Innovations in Plastic Recycling visit: https://www.berryglobal.com/en/sustainability/berry-circular-polymers.