Then, in a complementary approach, MRFs and mechanical recyclers could be included in the feedstock preparation process for chemical recyclers. The current interest is not only in recovering energy or in mechanical recycling but also in the production of valuable products such as … The effort involved is much greater than that of producing everything from scratch. In order to support the safe use of their recycled products, recyclers must collect information in our, LyondellBasell’s Pilot Molecular Recycling Facility, Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh; German Chemical Society). Chemical recycling could be a way around some of mechanical recycling’s shortcomings. In a circular approach we try to valorise waste. When it comes to processing more complex plastics, chemical recycling is the only option. If, for example, a cheese package consists of seven layers of film, it is not practical to recycle it. Global annual plastic waste is 220 million tons. Chemical recycling enables recycling of a wider range of waste plastics than traditional, mechanical recycling. Economic valorisation may just be an attempt to make profit without any environmental gain, Founder & Editor of BioplasticsNews.com In 2013, we started with the recycling of post-consumer bottles, back into a grade suitable for direct food contact and the development of special grades based on recycled materials. Many assumptions regarding chemical recycling may turn out to be wrong. Mechanical recycling requires recyclable plastics. The plant is expected to cost a total of EUR 200 million. Chemical recycling will split the polymer chains (the molecular structure) and provide crude oil, naphtha or fuels. Chemical recycling makes plastic infinitely recyclable. In addition, the granules made from recycled plastic often have an unpleasant smell. Compare recycled pellets and virgin pellets and you will understand the problem: it’s not easy to find clients for recycled plastics. It can be argued that incineration at least recovers the energy contained in plastics, but our research shows that the associated efficiency is typically low. Mechanical recycling of plastics refers to the processing of plastics waste into secondary raw material or products without significantly changing the chemical structure of the material. Our research shows that just 12 percent of plastics waste is currently reused or recycled (Exhibit 1). The current approach to recycling just won’t cut it. Learn more about the benefits of each from Trinseo's Johan Koopmans. Fiber recycling using mechanical and chemical processes Textiles can be recycled by mechanical and chemical methods. 3. Durch den ausschließlichen Fokus auf hochmoderne Technologien für mechanisches Recycling geraten die Vorteile von Polyamiden für leistungsstarke und flexible Lebensmittelverpackungen etwas in den Hintergrund. Complementary: While large volumes of sorted single-stream plastics can and should be recycled mechanically, chemical recycling can process, for example, mixed plastic waste streams for which it may be impossible or very inefficient to sort them for a high-value mechanical recycling. Where the end-product of a chemical process is naphtha or pyrolysis oils, the process itself is considered a recovery operation rather than recycling. This results in bright recyclates that can be colored. This review presents a comprehensive description of the current pathways for recycling of polymers, via both mechanical and chemical recycling. Mechanically recycled plastic waste is not a clean product like virgin plastic. Mechanical recycling preserves the molecular structure. Enter chemical recycling. Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in. The German Federal Environment Agency points out that in this case, it would be better to convert the waste into energy in a waste incineration plant instead of using fuel as an intermediate step. Mechanical recycling keeps the molecular structure. If these fuels are subsequently burned, even more CO2 is blown into the air. Product design also plays a major role in mechanical recycling. So, unlike glass for instance, you cannot necessarily use mechanically recycled polymers to remake the same product. Monomers. Chemicals. According to the European Food Safety Authority, granulate from mechanical recycling cannot be used in food packaging. If the initial mixture contains too many different materials or if it is too dirty—both of which are common with plastic waste—the quality of the product decreases and the whole process becomes economically unviable. The machine can sort up to one tonne of flakes per hour. Mechanical recycling requires plastics that can actually be recycled. Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. “Potentially, chemical recycling could be used for difficult to recycle streams where conventional mechanical recycling cannot provide an adequate solution.” This would increase the recycling rates if waste is properly managed and collected. In principle, all types of thermoplastics can be mechanically recycled with little or no quality impairment. He cautions that this potential should not be used as an excuse for disregarding better design for recycling and postponing the urgent need to … The company has developed what it claims is the first biological process to infinitely recycle PET. However, it should be an opportunity with low-value or hard-to-recycle plastics. Mechanical recycling is less energy intensive than chemical recycling. Another challenge is the color of the recycled plastic: When plastic waste is shredded and remelted into granulate, the resulting product is black-grey. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. First, it’s a truly closed loop. Why not incinerate the plastic waste in the first place? This requires a great deal of know-how, for example, which dyes and additives can be used in recyclable plastic. Mechanical recycling typically uses technologies that retain the original physical form of used plastics; that is, the plastic material (resin) remains mostly the same during mechanical recycling. Only PET bottles that consumers bring back for a deposit may be used again for new food packaging. It’s not as aesthetically or visually attractive. Mechanical vs. Chemical Recycling. Mechanical recycling is bankrupt and not economically viable, nobody wants to invest in this sector anymore. Many chemical recycling facilities have problems with continuous operation. The science journalist Brigitte Osterath questions why the development of chemical recycling is supported with millions whereas hardly any investment is being made in the more environmentally friendly mechanical recycling. Chemical recycling also has an adverse carbon lifecycle assessment (LCA) footprint. Mechanical recycling is not enough: chemical recycling on an industrial scale must be developed and fully harnessed to support achieving these targets. As an example, a chemical recycling plant is to be built in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Polyamides Raw Materials. Carbios, a green chemistry company focused on plastics recycling, is targeting polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—a resin it believes offers huge market potential. Food packaging requires food grade plastics and not all recycled plastics fulfil those requirements. At atmospheric pressure and a temperature of 149 F, it can depolymerize PET into its origi… First, we reduce the amount of plastic waste, and secondly, we improve our resource efficiency, as using plastic waste as a feedstock reduces our dependence on the non-renewable resources such as oil when making new chemicals. Currently, companies are promoting chemical recycling more strongly, although it requires a lot of energy and … These, in turn, can be used to manufacture new plastics. It uses a reactor to catalyze a reaction involving enzymes, PET and water. Creating new fibers from textile … Chemical recycling technologies play a decisive role in closing the loop and supporting the transition towards a more sustainable and circular economy in Europe. landfills, or dumps, means that these materials are lost forever as a resource, despite plastics’ potential for reuse a… Many companies are ready to make investments. This problem can be overcome with an improved recycling process: A machine sorts the plastic flakes into three fractions according to their brightness: white, colorless, and colorful. Chemical recycling complements mechanical. However, funding for chemical recycling is currently much higher than for mechanical recycling. In mechanical recycling polymers stay intact, this permits for multiple re-use of polymers in the same or similar product — effectively creating a closed loop. Here are the three main types of recycling: mechanical, energy and chemical. Many companies are ready to make investments. Neidhardt Recycling GmbH (DE):The input material is a PVC-aluminium composite used for blister packaging. Chemical recycling might currently be popular due to a lack of knowledge of how to improve mechanical recycling. Hence, we restricted ourselves on areas covered by other projects. Plastic waste seems to be a very promising feed in the production of valuable chemicals and fuels. Mechanical recycling is used for … This is a free article, PHA Cosmetic Packaging for Beauty and Hotel, Roquette Revolutionises Aerosol Packaging, EU to Define Sustainable Plastic Manufacturing. If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission. A significant amount of waste is thus rejected at an early stage, reducing the total efficiency of the process. This smell can be transferred to the product. It could become necessary to go for batch production instead of continuous production to control quality of the end product. A carbon pricing regime would raise the cash cost of virgin resin production to a higher level than today. Mechanical recycling cannot treat contaminated plastics or mixed plastic streams. What's better: Mechanical or Chemical recycling? This granulate is then used to make new plastic products. Mechanical recycling shreds plastic waste and doesn’t’ use toxic chemicals. You can find out more about our use of cookies The distinction between mechanical recycling and feedstock (or chemical) recycling is that mechanical requires physical separation, whereas feedstock recycling converts mixed PE/PP/PS/PVC into basic hydrocarbon building blocks. Chemical recycling splits polymer chains and supplies products such as crude oil, naphtha, or fuels. Chemical recycling needs more energy and produces more CO2 emissions. Therefore, detailed and labour-intensive sorting is required before the recycling process. Complementary: While large volumes of sorted single-stream plastics can and should be recycled mechanically, chemical recycling can process, for example, mixed plastic waste streams for which it may be impossible or very inefficient to sort them for a high-value mechanical recycling. Mechanical recycling, very simply, consists of melting down the old plastic and using it to make new products Mechanical recycling can only be done a few times before the polymers break down and the quality of the plastic degrades. Because mechanical recycling has the highest CO₂ reduction figures we are also exploring mechanical recycling of other polyester waste streams like polyester textiles and carpets. The fact that the great majority of used plastics goes to incineration, 1 1. While traditional "chop-and-wash" mechanical recycling works well for PET and HDPE (think: water bottles and milk jugs), it cannot effectively manage the complex stream of films, chip bags, synthetic fibers and other plastics that enter the waste stream every day. The principles of these recycling pathways are framed against current-day industrial reality, by discussing predominant industrial technologies, design strategies and recycling examples of specific waste streams. 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