Hope has arrived for “non-recyclable” plastics as breakthrough recycling technology reveals that melting down mixed plastics is the key to reusing them.
Mixed plastics such as crisp packets, cling film and plastic pouches were previously not able to be recycled in the UK. But breakthrough machinery from Recycling Technologies being trialled in the UK is able to melt down mixed plastics in a process known as pyrolysis. The recycling technology reduces the plastics to a wax which can be then be reused in production. It’s estimated that the new method for recycling this type of plastic could result in a ten-fold increase in recycling potential over the next decade.
The move comes in response to the recent recognition of the global single-use plastic crisis. A trial is currently running in the South-West across 10 Tesco stores inviting shoppers to return their mixed plastics which will be sent off for processing at the Recycling Technologies plant. The company, currently based in Swindon, hopes to open its first commercial processing plant in Scotland in 2020, with plans for the recycling technology to be reproduced and widely distributed so that it can benefit sustainability efforts across the globe.
It’s hoped the new recycling technology, in conjunction with progress that’s being made with AI in the recycling sector, including robotic arms which are capable of piecing apart electronics for usable parts, will help achieve current goals to get from 8% to 90% recycled plastic in the UK.
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