A Quick Overview of Plastic Recycling

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What is Plastic Recycling?

It is the process of recovery of plastic waste and reprocessing them to create products that are functional and useful. The goal of plastic recycling is to eliminate plastic pollution by taking out plastics from the ocean and landfills as well as conserve resources in the process. What’s mind-blowing is that recycling plastic requires 88% less energy than manufacturing plastics. Furthermore, recycling a single plastic bottle can provide a 100W bulb, enough power to last for an hour.

 plastic recycling

The different types of plastic

There are numerous types of plastic, and when trying to familiarize yourself with the plastic recycling process and avoid contamination, there are seven categories to remember. Chances are you have seen these symbols on products, and while they look like the “recycling symbol”, they actually indicate resin type, with some representing material that is not recyclable at all.


Number 1: PETE (or PET) – Polyethylene Terephthalate

One of the most common types of plastic you are likely to come across – this is the resin used for the manufacture of products such as food containers and plastic bottles for water or soft drinks. PETE (sometimes referred to as PET) is widely recycled.

Number 2: HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene

More rigid than PETE, this type of plastic is used in what will appear to be “sturdier” products such as detergent bottles, food and drink storage, bottle caps, some thicker shopping bags, and non-single-use plastic products like toys, helmets, and piping. Again, this type of plastic is widely recycled.

Number 3: PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC is considered one of the most versatile and common plastic types and is used for applications such as water and waste pipes (due to it being very resistant to chemical and biological damage), flooring, signage, furniture, and more. While there are some methods developed to recycle PVC, it is not common and rarely found in general plastic collections. This is in large part due to the toxicity of PVC when processed.

Number 4: LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene

While not as strong as HDPE, this low-density plastic is highly resilient and used across a wide range of products such as containers, playground fixtures, and plastic trash bags. This resin-type is recyclable, but many products can be excluded (such as plastic bags) since they pose the risk of clogging machinery and are deemed not worthwhile to recycle.

Number 5: PP – Polypropylene

Commonly used in injection molding, this plastic can be found in products from bottle caps to surgical tools and clothing. While PP is recyclable, it is often rejected by processing centers due to the problems it poses, making the rate at which it is recycled far lower than other plastics.

Number 6: PS – Polystyrene

This plastic is frequently used as disposable plastic containers for food, as insulated containers, and in packaging materials. Despite its abundance, PS is rarely recycled due to it not being cost-effective (in its most common form, expanded polystyrene or styrofoam, is 95% air) and requires more energy than it saves to recycle.

 plastic washing line

The Plastic Recycling Process

The simplest of plastic recycling processes involves collecting, sorting, shredding, washing, melting, and pelletizing. The actual particular processes vary based on plastic resin or type of plastic product.

Most plastic recycling facilities use the following two-step process:

Step One: Sorting plastics automatically or with a manual sort to make sure all the contaminants are removed from the plastic waste stream. 

Step Two: Melting down plastics directly into a new shape or shredding into flakes then melting down before being finally processed into granulates.


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There are many benefits to recycling plastic in your home or business.  As a professional plastic recycling washing line supplier, we offers many recycling services that also expand past just plastics.  We aim to make the earth a healthier place.  Contact us today to learn about our recycling efforts and how you can join our efforts.  


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