Plastic waste problem: How to save nature?

Plastic waste is a significant problem in modern cities. It primarily comprises various packaging, construction materials, polyethylene bags, and toys. Due to the difficulty of proper disposal, this waste accumulates quickly in urban landfills, polluting the environment. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and incineration releases many toxic pollutants into the atmosphere. Only effective recycling can help save the environment and improve global ecology.

Today, plastic recycling companies specialize in the recycling of household waste, adhering to established standards. The process involves the collection, sorting by material type, and plastic processing. Most of the raw material is not sent to landfills but used to create reusable products.

Plastic Sorting Features

In developed countries, waste separation is practiced, where plastic is separated from general waste and disposed of in dedicated containers. This initial sorting stage, involving everyone, helps separate most recyclable material from non-recyclable waste. Companies must particularly carefully sort plastic waste for further industrial plastic recycling.

To minimize environmental pollution and reduce household waste, purchasing products with minimal packaging and returning the packaging for recycling in designated bins is advisable. When purchasing reusable containers, look for a symbol consisting of arrows indicating that the container can be returned to recycling facilities.

Recycling and Disposal of plastic waste

For reusing plastic, it undergoes appropriate processing, such as melting it down to create new packaging, toys, or household and professional products. After collection and sorting, the waste is sent to produce new materials.

Methods of Plastic Recycling

There are five methods of plastic scrap recycling, let’s list and describe them in detail.

Mechanical Methods:

One of the simplest methods is shredding, which breaks down the material without melting or chemically treating it. Waste is sorted into soft and hard components, facilitating further processing.

The shredding process yields three types of raw material:

  • Granules: Solid waste is crushed and shredded, resulting in coarse particles.
  • Flakes: Soft plastic is processed through temperature variations.
  • Pellets: Soft plastic undergoes thermal treatment during mechanical processing.

Thermal Methods:

Thermal processing is the most common recycling method. The material is loaded into a furnace, exposed to high temperatures, and rapidly decomposed. This process reduces the waste volume by 90%, leaving harmless ash while capturing toxic gases through special filters.

Incineration without prior sorting is also used for household waste disposal, helping alleviate landfill congestion and dispose of a large volume of waste.

Pyrolysis, a thermal treatment method, is gaining popularity for plastic recycling as fuel production. It involves burning plastic in oxygen-free furnaces, where chemical reactions break down the material.

Chemical Methods:

Chemical methods are applied to plastic recycling by subjecting waste to pre-prepared containers, where chemical reactions occur. Liquids and catalysts are added to accelerate decomposition, resulting in secondary recycled products for manufacturing new plastic.

Methods of Material Decomposition:

  • Methanolysis: Plastic is decomposed by methanol and high temperatures.
  • Hydrolysis: Material undergoes thermal treatment in the presence of water and acids.
  • Glycolysis: An oxidation process used to obtain secondary products.

Physicochemical Methods:

Physicochemical methods are employed to enhance material strength. Over time, plastic, like metal, loses its power and becomes more elastic or brittle. Due to this “fatigue,” products cannot fulfill their intended purpose, resulting in leaking containers or failed structural components.

Initially, plastic undergoes mechanical treatment, grinding, and thorough mixing. The second stage involves melting and adding plasticizers to restore material properties. This treatment allows for the reuse of products.

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