What exactly are plastic regrinds? As the world wakes up to the importance of plastic recycling, new terms are creeping into the dictionary which describes innovative new solutions for previously entrenched problems. Let’s take a closer look at plastic regrinding, which is a specific form of handling plastic waste to prevent it from ending up in landfill for decades to come.

What is Plastic Regrinding?

The process stands for Post Industrial Regrind, or PIR. This essentially describes the process of recapturing scrap plastics and resins from any manufacturing process. These processes happen, for example, when lids are being made for bottles and plastic containers. It can include tails, moils, runners, and flashings that result from the plastic molding and extruding processes which naturally produce waste. Imagine this kind of waste being produced in plastic factories across the world and you can instantly see the magnitude of the problem. But with plastic regrinds, this wasted product is simply ground up and added back into the process. Because the plastic regrinds have already been heated and molded once, they aren’t virgin materials. This means that their properties differ slightly from a physical, flow and chemical standpoint, and consequently, they can’t be used entirely to make new parts or bottles. But their value is significant, as they reduce tons of plastic waste that would otherwise end up languishing in landfill for generations to come.

Where Does this Plastic Regrind Come From?

There tend to be two primary sources of material. The first is from rejected parts, such as those which have been rejected by QC for failing to live up to manufacturing needs. An example could be a bottle lid that leaked. While these parts are typically considered defective and thrown out as waste from the manufacturing process, they can now enter into the plastic regrind closed manufacturing loop, where they are turned to the grinder, ground, and added back into the material feed where they can ‘try again’.

The second source of regrind material comes from the extrusion process, where molded plastics such as tails and moils are left behind from blow molding. These can be removed when the mold is released and then trimmed to be collected and – again – sent on to the grinder to be used once more.

A Manufacturing Green Win

So, PIR isn’t something that your local council offers, but it is increasingly being used by manufacturing businesses. PCR plastics – post-consumer regrinds – are something slightly different and are collected from recycling plants for further cleaning and processing, before being added back into manufacturing. The good news is that manufacturers are committing to this kind of plastic reuse on a grand scale as they bid to make their operations greener and to introduce recycled products into their product lines in the process. This can save factories money as well as boost their eco-friendly credentials by removing costs associated with the purchase of virgin materials and excess waste disposal. Plastic regrinding can help improve industrial process management while reducing plastic waste, resulting in a process that is beneficial for businesses, people, and the planet.  

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