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🗺 Map of Plastic ♻ Recycling Technologies

Correctly pairing a 'type plastic waste' with 'matching recycling method' is a key challenge to maximising resource efficiency and achieving sustainable plastic circularity. Following Map of Plastic Recycling Technologies, distinguishes between options for segregated as well as non-segregated plastic waste and pairing each type of plastic waste with their respective recycling method.

Segregated plastic waste, accounting for 9% of the total plastic waste, involves specific types of plastics that are sorted from other materials. Mixed plastic waste, make up the larger share at 91%, consists of various plastic types combined together.

For segregated plastic waste, different types of plastics like PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene), PP (Polypropylene), PS (Polystyrene), and other less common plastics are identified. The technology recommended for recycling:

  • PET is up-cycling through chemical recycling, which can convert waste into higher quality products.

  • PE/PP/PVC can be recycled through

    • up-cycling by solvolysis, a chemical process that breaks down the polymer using a solvent.

    • down-cycling via mechanical recycling (e.g. injection moulding), which typically results in lower-quality products like detergent boxes etc.

For mixed plastic waste, the technology map suggests:

  • Down-cycling through low-value compression moulding, a process suitable for mixed plastics that cannot be easily separated.

  • Up-cycling and down-cycling through chemical recycling methods such as pyrolysis, pyrolysis oil purification, or gasification.

The selection of technology is crucial for achieving plastic circularity, aiming to recycle plastics in a way that maximises their value and minimises waste. By matching the type of plastic waste with the appropriate technology, we can ensure that materials are reused in the most efficient and sustainable manner, closing the loop in the lifecycle of plastics and moving towards a more circular economy.

Join APChemi's Sustainable Advanced Recycling initiatives!


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