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Plastic Recycling – Need, Steps, Types & Challenges

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The Plastic World

Plastics are known to be one of the most wonderful inventions of 20th century which has changed the life of people. Plastic has become a part and parcel of one’s life and has become an integral part. Plastic has replaced the traditional use of paper, cloth, etc. Plastic has undoubtedly made the life easy for people however its inability to decompose completely has created several hazards to life. The chemical composition of plastic is such that it is not decomposed or broken down in soil. Plastic when disposed to soil are only found to be littering across the land. The “throw away” culture results in these bags finding way to drainage system. This leads to stagnation of water resulting in blocking of path for water disposal. The stagnation results in unhygienic environment conditions.

Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics so as to re-process and form useful products. The new form of product need not be same as the old form and plastic can be completely recycled into new different form from original state.

Also Read on GWI Think Green, Think Waste Management!

Steps in the Plastic Recycling

  • Collection of recyclable plastic waste
  • Categorization of recyclable waste on the basis of their nature/type.

Factors contributing to Plastic Pollution

  • In the process of manufacturing plastic, large amount of natural resources are used which is not replenishable by nature. The resources include fossil fuel, water, etc. whose presence is again a question in the current stage. The complex method of breaking the raw materials/heating to firm plastic is again harmful for environment as it emits several by-products and also emits toxic gages. Harmful wastes are also produced during the production of plastic. Chemicals involved in the production are harmful for life and environment too.
  • Being a complex polymer having long carbon chain, plastics are non degradable in nature and thus take long time to break down.
  • Also disposal of plastic products contributes to the polluting of environment.

Challenges in Plastic Recycling

When compared to other products like metals etc. processing of plastics requires more treatment which includes heating, de-polymerization, and monomer recycling. Plastics are nothing but high carbon chains also known as polymers and due to their high molecular weight they have low entropy for mixing. Also amount of heat dissipated and used for the breaking of plastic is sufficiently high. Heating normal plastics results in emission of harmful gases to the surrounding which is toxic and thus not a feasible method for recycling. Currently newer breed of plastics also known as biodegradable plastics are being used which are easier for decomposition and creates less pollution in the environment.

Read on GWI Electronic Waste Management Companies in India.

Types of Plastic Recycling

  • Process Scrap: The method is applied to the leftovers during the manufacturing process of plastic or plastic products. The left over components are generally safe being unpolluted as a result of which it is easier to recycle them.
  • Post-Use: This is one of the biggest challenging process. It includes the used plastics which has been thrown and are collected by rag pickers. The method is complex and also involves lots of chemicals. It is very harmful for body and environment as proper plastic takes long to get heated and emits harmful gases.
  • Mechanical: Mechanical method means use of shredder, etc. for recycling. The process in general involves segregation of plastic based on their quality and type. After separation they are either melted or shredded. The melted plastics are then made into new shape.

To conclude we can say plastics are danger to human life and environment. It is always advisable people to use biodegradable materials like cloth, jute, paper, etc. which are environment friendly are easy degraded. It is important we run awareness campaign regarding ill effects of plastic because only then we will be able to make world free from harmful elements like Plastics.

Also Available on GWI Free Guide on SOLAR ENERGY IN INDIA.



Niraj Satnalika

Niraj is an MBA in International Business (Finance). Prior to this he completed B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation. He is currently working with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kolkata in capacity of Consultant. Satnalika is actively involved with an NGO and works towards promoting education among the underprivileged.

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