Almost all plastics may be recycled. However, economic, technical, and logistical barriers affect how much they are recovered. Plastic sheets are a limited and vital resource, therefore the most common aim after their initial usage is to recycle them into a new item. Plastic sheets can be bought online, and cut-to-size.
Almost all local governments in the United Kingdom offer plastic recycling collection. This is post-consumer plastic packaging waste, which is recycled by the industry. The quantity that was collected and recycled each year has risen every year for at least the previous 25 years.
When plastic is collected and sent to a recycling plant, it may be divided into various polymers types. It is shredded (and impurities like newspaper are removed), melted back into polymer pellets, and then reconditioned. These pellets must be recycled at a facility. These are commonly donated to charity, but in the end, they’re sold and incorporated into new products. Recycling and other recovery processes benefit the building, manufacturing, and retail industries by lowering environmental impacts while also saving money.
Recycling rates in the United Kingdom have greatly improved in recent years and are continuing to improve. In 2000, for example, only 13,000 tons of plastic bottles were recycled; today, over 380,000 tonnes are recycled each year. The following figures are for the United Kingdom.
- 86% of plastic packaging is recovered
- 77% of plastic drink bottles are recycled
- 50% of plastic packaging is recycled
- 78% of post-consumer plastic is recovered
- 59% of all plastic bottles are collected for recycling
- 32% of all plastic is recycled
It is widely recognized as a cost-cutting and environmental-friendly technique, especially in the construction, manufacturing, and retail industries. Plastic’s recyclability, which is also one of its key selling points due to its ability to be extremely resource-efficient material, is another major selling point. Plastic is often treated as a disposable resource, but it should be thought of as a valuable one rather than “waste.”
Any sort of plastic may be recycled. However, because of economic and logistical factors, the proportion of recycling is different. PET and HDPE are the most frequently recycled polymers, utilized to produce soft drink bottles and milk bottles, respectively. Clear and coloured polystyrene can also be recycled. Traditional recycling is known as “mechanical recycling,” which causes the plastic to physically break down but not the chemical structure. Chemical recycling is a specialized approach that transforms polymers into new ones. It has only recently been utilised, however, it does change the chemical structure of the plastic. All types of plastics, including those classified as food-grade packaging, may be recycled using this method.
The On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) tells customers whether or not a plastic product may be recycled. This information is valuable for businesses and brand owners to educate the public on what can and cannot be recycled.
Because there is no other choice, the United Kingdom exports some of its plastic for recycling. The UK does not have the resources to recycle all of the things it creates. For a long time, the BPFs has been calling for greater investment in our national recycling infrastructure. It’s true that the UK should be able to recycle all of its own waste, but for the time being, there will be a mix between recyclable materials within the country and exporting it abroad to be recycled.
There is no simple answer to this question. It varies with the kind of plastic, how it is recycled, and what it’s being recycled for. During recycling, polymers do break down somewhat; however, any minor degradation may be offset by adding exact amounts of ‘virgin’ (new) plastic.