The Recycling Process

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The Recycling Process for Plastics Contains Three Basic Phases:

  1. Collection of recycled plastics
  2. Processing of the recycled plastics at a recycling facility
  3. Sales and reuse of the recycled plastic

Thermoplastics are first produced by chemical companies such as Dow Chemical, Nova, or BASF and are supplied to converters and processors in the form of plastic pellets. These pellets are then converted into various types of plastic parts such as automotive components, flexible packaging, consumer goods and hundreds of other types of products. Once these products have completed their useful life they can be recycled where they can begin another lifecycle.

In the first phase of recycling, plastics are collected via curbside recycling, drop off at recycling centers, through buy-back programs or from deposit/refund programs. After collection the recycle materials are sent to a Municipal Recovery Facility where they are sorted and contamination or other non-recyclable materials are separated.

In the second phase (processing) the recycled plastics are cleaned and sorted and ground up to a smaller size. In some cases the grind may be processed through an extruder and re-pelletized for easier handling when sold to converters and processors.

The third phase of plastic recycling involves the sale of the recycled grind or pellets to companies that will then use them to make new products. Often times the grind or pellets are sold to compounders who use the recycled plastic as feedstock to make new plastic compounds. In other cases, the grind or pellets may be sold to processors who injection mold new parts or produce new extruded products.

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