PTFE Recycling
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Plastic Recycling Machine

As the United States increase in the amount of plastics used in manufacturing products such as bottles, bags, toys, and furniture, the subject of plastic recycling and end-life management has become evermore important. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plastic consists of 12.4% of all municipal solid waste in 2010, that’s around 31 million tons. Of this, only 8% was recycled.

The remaining 92% of plastic waste, or approximately 28.5 million tons, in the municipal solid waste stream is landfilled. With this number on the increase and landfills filling up quickly, efforts in developing plastic recycling technology have rapidly strengthened. The largest problem faced by plastic recyclers is that plastic need to be separated by type before it can be properly recycled. That is, PET plastic bottles cannot be mixed with plastic films made from LDPE. These two types of plastic cannot be recycled or melted together as PET bottles have a higher melting point than LDPE film. To resolve this, separation machinery must be used.

According to one manufacturer plastic recycling machines, the separation of PET from LDPE is quite simple using a gravity “sink / float” separation tank. PET bottles and LDPE films are first be cut down into small pieces or flakes using a plastic granulator or industrial shredder. This mixture of material is then placed into a large separation tank filled with water. As PET plastics have a higher density than water, it will sink to the bottom while LDPE, with density less than water, will float to the top. Using a conveyor system, the PET at the bottom of the separation tank is removed and further processed.

Although this is only a simple explanation of how plastic recycling machinery can greatly enhance the efficiency and ability to recycle mixed plastic scrap, the greater problem is more sophisticated mixtures with various contaminants such as dirt, metals, glass, and more.

While there’s no “super machine” that can take a stream of mixed materials and accurately separating the materials by type and color yet, according to Recycling Today, optical sorters using laser, infrared, and ultraviolet technology are quickly evolving to accomplish this. MSS Inc. is one such company that is leading the way in optical sorting equipment. Using MSS’s Aladdin series sorters, plastics can be sorted by resin type and color at the same time generating three output streams from one input stream. It’s an all-in-one optical sorter with integrated automated sensor cleaning for maximized uptime.

From the most complex plastic recycling machines (such as those mentioned above) to the most basic, the innovation in plastic recycling machinery has greatly increased our capacity for plastic recycling. Although the underlying concept is usually the same for basic pieces of recycling machinery, these can also benefit from innovation. For instance, the first step in plastic recycling is usually size reduction, or cutting the plastics down to smaller pieces or flakes. The most common is the use of a plastic granulator, which uses knives on a spinning rotor to cut plastic scrap into uniform sized regrinds. Innovative designs on how the knives are arranged have greatly improved operation efficiency by requiring less sharpening, lower energy consumption, and lowering wear and tear via lower friction and heat buildup in the cutting chamber.

As the amount of plastic waste continue to increase, the use of plastic recycling machinery is becoming an integral part of how plastic is recycled and processed. From plastic granulators, to separation tanks, to optical sorters, to many other recycling equipment used, our use of technology has played an important role in how we increase capacity, efficiency, and the types of plastic we can recycle.

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