Once upon a time, there were not plastic bags, plastic bottles, packages, dangerous waste.. It would be the beginning of a tale, maybe not of a fairy-tale, rather of a realistic story. Yes, the harsh reality is that there is no longer any uncontaminated area on the whole World. Our life-style conducts all these changes that have occurred since the invention of plastic. We use artificial and unnatural substances as a basic material for almost all goods that are manufactured for packaging, home construction, transportation, toys, appliances, containers, clothing, home and industrial furnishing and so on. Moreover, we can hardly find any food or drink at supermarkets that are not wrapped into plastic foil and boxes. This is the mirror of our contemporary habits and the majority of people could not easily live without it. It seems impossible even to imagine life without all those household items and accessories that we use.
Recently, scientist and environmentalists have started to warn about the side effects of the artificial materials. Plastic products do not decompose after their use and they could last in the environment for up to a thousand years. The problem of waste plastic is taking a large volume of space in landfills. To lower the amount of plastic waste, we should reduce the amount of packaging used on products, we can re-use packaging more than once and we can recycle the used materials. The recycling of plastic waste contributes to reduce electricity consumption and thereby reduce emissions, so we should learn something about plastic recycling.
Plastic recycling is the separation and sorting of plastics waste and its processing into new products. It is a set of operations for getting useful materials from the material that already exists.
Plastic waste is a very complex matter because its chemical composition differs from the plastic to plastic. First, it is important to separate plastics by type.
There are seven types of plastics that are commonly recycled and these plastics have their marks for easier separation.
Plastic labels are:
1. PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – bottles of soft drinks, beer, water, packaging for food …
2. PE-HD or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) – bottles for household chemicals, various cans and barrels, bottles of shampoo, crates of beer and wine, toys..
3. PVC or V (Polyvinyl Chloride) – doors and windows, moldings, sewer pipes, cable insulation, bottles for chemistry …
4. PE-LD or LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) – a variety of bottles, wraps of bottles, garbage bags..
5. PP (Polypropylene) – home plastics (tables, chairs, boxes, cans …), palette …
6. PS (Polystyrene) – plastic kitchen utensils, household appliances, boxes for the disks …
7. Other plastics (ABS, PA etc.). – computer cases, parts in the automotive industry, baby bottles.. Number 7 plastics that are made from polycarbonate are a source of the dangerous toxin BPA ( bisphenol-A). Avoid using them.
Many plastic materials can be recycled if they are properly collected. Then the classified plastics undergo further treatment, which is washing and cleaning. Washing and cleaning are done for efficient use in further manufacturing. The next stage of recycling plastic is shredding in special mills for grinding. Larger pieces of plastic are cut into smaller ones for easier putting into the mill. This milled plastic may be of different granulation, depending on the screens on the mill. The resulting granules can be immediately used in the production of plastic.
Recycling agricultural plastics is more expensive than other types of plastic primarily due to a much greater degree of contamination of this type of plastic as well as the difficulties and costs that arise because of the need to collect this type of plastic from a large agricultural area. Because of these difficulties and problems, it is desirable that agricultural households, farms and other agricultural corporations prepare their waste plastic. Here are some advices how should be plastic waste prepared:
Foil and other thin films:
* Cut into small pieces (size of about 10 cm)
* Brush and shake to remove the remains of soil, stones, and parts of plants.
* Reel dried foil (to size of a pillow)
Foil for greenhouses:
* Cut clean and dry foil into pieces. Size of pieces depends on the thickness and softness properties.
Hard plastic containers, pallets, plastic parts of the drop by drop irrigation system:
* Clean from dirt and dust and dry. Press and put onto palettes
Containers of chemicals:
* Rinse with water few times and contact the recycling center for further instructions.
-Storage and baling waste plastic:
* Waste plastics should be stored in a dry and clean place to avoid further contamination (store in warehouses, silos, barns, wagons, or outside on the covered area).
* Do not mix different types of plastic when making a bundle of plastic.
* Baling: Make a bale of about 500kg. Each bale mark with resistant marker with information about the type and origin of plastic, date and contact information.
If those information have not convinced you about the importance of recycling, maybe you want to know something about bioplastic products.
Bioplastics are mainly produced from plants such as sugarcane, wheat, corn, potatoes, or vegetable oils. From the covers for mobile phones, to the plastic plates, shoes, diapers, to shopping bags and containers for flowers – almost all the objects in the household should have an other, more environmentally friendly version.
For experts, it is only a logical continuation of the increased demand for bio-food. Researches have shown that customers would rather purchase bio-vegetables in some of the environmental package than those in ordinary packaging.
These data alarmed the producers of plastic and motivate them to invest millions in developing bio-products. Plastic materials that are manufactured on the basis of corn are used by many supermarket chains. Green plastic has become a big business.
Experts see huge potential in bioplastics that could reduce the negative effects of greenhouse gases and slow climate change. Also, green plastic has an advantage over conventional plastic production methods, because in the beginning requires less energy and does not contain toxic chemical compounds. However, further scientific researches are crucial to demonstrate to what extent is bioplastic sustainable.
Already, only 27 per cent of all plastics get recycled and there is a further concern that bioplastics will decrease the existing recycling projects. Whatever strategy you choose, collect, recycle or support the production of bioplastics, just be open-minded and try to include some changes in your life and life of the mankind and of the Planet.