The importance of plastic recycling for a more sustainable future
Plastic is a versatile and durable material that is used in many everyday products. Not being biodegradable, however, plastic can remain intact for thousands of years, endangering the balance of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Recycling plastics can help to reduce environmental pollution and preserve natural resources. Plastic recycling, in fact, allows not only to reduce the amount of waste and microplastics that end up in the environment, but also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of oil and non-renewable resources used to produce new plastic.
To understand the importance of plastic recycling, let’s see together how it is done, what types of plastics are recyclable and what can be achieved at the end of the process.
Plastic recycling: which plastics are recyclable?
To start recycling plastic and make proper separate collection, it is important to know the different types of plastic and how they are marked. The main types of plastic that can be recovered and recycled are:
- PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), commonly used for water bottles and cans. PET can be recycled to create new bottles and other products;
- HDPE (High Density Polyethylene): this type of plastic is generally used for milk containers, detergents and cleaning products. HDPE can be recycled to create new containers and other products.
- PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), mainly used for piping and coating;
- LDPE (Low density polyethylene), commonly used for bags and films;
- PP (Polypropylene): often used for food containers, milk bottles and caps. PP can be recycled into new containers and other products.
How do you recycle plastic?
The plastic recycling process begins with the waste collection phase, which is separated according to the type of plastic. In Italy, separate collection is managed by the individual municipalities and can be carried out differently from region to region. In order to ensure the correct recycling of plastic, it is therefore essential to separate waste in the right way, both at home and in working environments, using the appropriate bags and containers prepared for disposal. The collected plastic packaging is then unloaded in special recycling centres, where it is cleaned and prepared for further processing. In general, the plastic recycling phases are divided into:
- screening means a process that eliminates the finest waste;
- suction, which allows to separate films, polyethylene bags and the various types of plastic from other packaging or containers for heavier liquids;
- selection of different plastics based on polymer (different types of plastics have identification codes that make them easy to separate) and sorting, for example by dividing PET materials, such as plastic bottles, from HDPE waste. The different types of plastic packaging are then separated also according to the color;
- control by operators to verify the correct sorting of plastic waste, which is prepared for transport to recycling plants;
- pre-washing of plastic packaging in special mills with hot water to remove all surface impurities;
- grinding, which allows to reduce the plastic into small flakes (called pellets) preparing it for the next phase of pulverization.
Once the pellets are obtained, the plastic can be reused for the realization of new products, which can be similar to the original ones (for example PET bottles can be transformed into new containers) or objects completely different from the previous ones.
What do you get from recycling plastic?
Plastic recycling is a process that makes it possible to recover the raw material from used plastic packaging and objects and to transform it into new objects. Recycled plastic can be used to produce a wide range of products, from bottles to containers, from packaging to bags, to furniture. Recycling plastics can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, protect the environment and save energy. In particular, the recycling of plastics allows to:
- defending nature and the balance of ecosystems: plastic dispersed in the environment or disposed of in landfills can take a very long time to degrade. In addition, microplastics can be harmful to animal and human health. Proper separate collection and the consequent recycling of plastic is essential to reduce pollution and the amount of waste to be disposed of;
- saving non-renewable resources, such as oil and methane, as well as a significant amount of water and energy needed to produce plastic from raw materials;
- limit the amount of waste sent to landfills and hazardous substances disposed of in the environment. In order to protect the health of all and improve the quality of air and soil, it is therefore important to try to use recycled plastic as much as possible;
- limiting CO2 emissions into the atmosphere: the plastic production process produces large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are released into the environment during the entire life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of raw materials, up to the stages of processing and distribution on the market. The recycling process, which allows new products to be produced, generates significantly less CO2 than production processes using virgin raw materials.
Plastic recycling: Beschi’s contribution
Beschi has always been attentive to the sustainability of production processes and constantly works to create increasingly green and environmentally friendly products, using recycled plastic. In addition to the interventions aimed at promoting energy saving and greater environmental sustainability, such as the installation of a photovoltaic system and the use of energy saving machinery, The company is committed to reducing waste and encouraging the recycling of plastics.
30% of the plastics used for the manufacture of accessories for textile industry in fact comes from recycled plastic, derived from post-production, and all items are certified with data sheets identifying the type of plastic used to facilitate disposal. In addition, the stretch film used for the packaging of all products is made from recycled LDPE. The packaging of plastic and finished products is then sold to companies specialized in the regeneration of PE for recycling.
Beschi also offers a line of eco-friendly tubes for the textile industry made from 100% regenerated plastic to ensure a lower environmental impact.