Uses of Recycled Plastics
In the United States of America today about 33.6 million tons of plastic waste is created each year. Some of this waste is recycled; 7.7 percent of these 33.6 million tons is combusted for energy, making electricity, and only 6.5 percent is recycled and reused. The United Nations Environmental Program reports that plastic consumption has majorly skyrocketed from 5.5 million tons in the 1950’s to 110 million tons only 59 years later (Cho, 2012).
A trend in recycling is steadily growing greater and greater with the public. Beverage containers made of plastic are composed of polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET. Polyethylene is reported as being the plastic that is recycled more often times than not by consumers. Tiny entrepreneur groups began recycling polyethylene and foreseen the hidden value that was available to them (Amos, 1993).
Plastics are split into two different classifications: these are thermosets and thermoplastics. When heated a thermoset becomes a solid. Thermosets are used in automobiles and construction materials for being recognized for their strength, and because of its ability to be molded and changed thermoplastics are used for making milk cartons, credit cards, and carpet and floor materials ("Plastics," 2013).
In an attempt to make recycling simpler and to utilize their time more efficiently, a coding system was created. Codes were made for each type of plastic and were stamped to the containers. This coding system could only be used if the containers were made of only one type of plastic. Here is a table that shows the general coding most used when it comes to manufacturers (Amos, 1993).
Code1 Material Percent of total
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) 20 to 30 percent
High Density Polyethylene 50 to 60 percent
Vinyl/Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 5 to 10 percent
Low Density Polyethylene 5 to 10 percent
Polypropylene 5 to 10 percent
Polystyrene 5 to 10 percent
All other resins 5 to 10 percent
Plastics that are to be recycled are separated into different piles, chopped up, and leached of impurities. From this pellets are made and used to create other things. Imagine plastic bottles being shipped to Europe and China, where they are processed. Processing is specific to the individual plastic but plastic bottles are typically cut into tiny flakes, washed in hot water, and melted into pellets....