Recycling.

7 12 2007


Do you recycle? do you know what happens to the things you recycle?

Aluminum cans are melting into sheets of aluminum and used to make new cans.
Glass is melted into new glass, easily.
Most plastic is used to make lowgrade plastics like playgrounds. but new technologies and processes – like depolymerization – might make it possible to use recycled plastic for household plastics (like new bottles of soda).

Here’s an article to read:

Turning Old Plastic Bottles Into Valuable Recycled Materials

“August 1, 2007 — Chemical Engineers developed a way to break down plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate — or PET, and recycle it back into high value uses like more soda bottles, water bottles, beer bottles. Inside the recycling plant’s extruder, water is removed from ground up plastic. Then, the plastic is melted and chemically broken down — in a process called depolymerization. The breakthrough in this process is to be able to go from chips of this plastic to the recycled material in about five minutes.

Here’s a loaded question — do you recycle? Even if you recycle — do you know where your plastic bottles go? Are they made into more bottles or something else? The answer may surprise you!

Recycled bottles are not made into new bottles — they’re used for lower grade plastics to build things like playgrounds — but a new machine may change that!

“What you want to do, ideally, is take that material and recycle it back into high value uses like more soda bottles, water bottles, beer bottles”, said George Roberts, a chemical engineer at North Carolina State University.

Roberts and his team developed a way to break down bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate — or PET. Right now, this type of plastic is non-biodegradable and costs too much to recycle back into food-grade bottles.

“You’re trying to complete that loop, then you don’t have to make new bottles,” said Joan Patterson, also a chemical engineer at North Carolina State University.

Inside the recycling plant’s extruder, water is removed from ground up plastic.

Then, the plastic is melted and chemically broken down — in a process called depolymerization.

“This is where the reaction begins and continues along the length of the extruder this way,” said Patterson.

“The breakthrough in this process is to be able to go from chips of this plastic to the recycled material in about five minutes,” said Roberts.

Good news considering Americans go through two and a half million plastic bottles every hour! Every year we make enough plastic to shrink-wrap Texas ý and most of it ends up in our landfills. But if every American household recycled just one out of every ten plastic bottles they used, we’d keep 200-million pounds of plastic out of landfills each year.

The Material Research Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.”

ADDITIONAL LINK:
(This is a recap on the new process developed by Roberts at NC State.
http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/news/news_articles/PET.html

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One response

8 12 2007
Bellagio

I need more information on depolymerization process. Could you provide the link?
You are correct about recycled plastic won’t be accepatable for food grade, since food grade plastic has to fullfill certain characteristics. I am quite a plastic recycler my self, and would like to share my knowledge to every one who interested in plastic recycling

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