As the world evolves, the materials we recycle also evolve. The conversation surrounding plastics recycling is a complicated one with many perspectives, but one thing is clear: plastics are here to stay.
The potential of plastic scrap is not to be overlooked in the current world economy. With the National Sword legislation coming out of China and environmental conversations continuing both in the United States and overseas, there has been an uptick in the need for shredders and granulators to handle a variety of types of plastic scrap. The best part: WEIMA’s size-reduction machinery is here to help with the plastics recycling process.
It’s so easy to point the finger at single-use plastic soda bottles as being the main culprit for landfills expanding rapidly. One must not forget that plastic components are used in a wide array of industries, including medical research and automotive/aerospace sectors, just to name a couple. Reducing our daily attachment to single-use bottles and packaging on the municipal level is only part of the solution, but not the whole picture.
Plastic recyclers all over the country are on the hunt for sources of plastic scrap that can be reprocessed into new materials. Recyclers can benefit from the use of a WEIMA single-shaft shredder in connection with a granulator, reducing plastic scrap from bulky or oddly-shaped pieces into a consistent particle size.
The product of this process is called regrind, and it is usually a more cost-effective option for many manufacturers than buying virgin resin to make new products. Plastics recyclers also can connect companies with waste streams with other companies who are in the market for regrind of various types, thus bridging that gap between companies that may have not connected previously. See it in action!
Where smaller companies may sell their scrap to a recycler, large manufacturers of plastic products or components may opt to invest in their own two-stage shredding line to process their plastic scrap on-site. There are benefits to this as well, especially if the operation is spending exorbitant amounts of money on virgin resin, or if there are gaylords of plastic scrap stacking up in the facility. Floorspace is valuable! Just ask this film manufacturing company, who is using multiple WEIMA shredders to process and reuse their scrap on-site.
Many of these companies also accrue large transportation costs for their scrap to be hauled to a recycler. Transportation of this material takes time and resources (environmental and personnel) that could be better spent manufacturing instead of handling waste. With the proper machinery, a plastic waste stream can be shredded and granulated on-site for reintegration, cutting out the middle man and saving on those costs. This regrind can then be introduced back into the manufacturing process, reducing the need for virgin resin to be purchased. This could save a company a significant amount of money, and it’s an environmentally-sound way to manufacture in this economy.
The future of plastics
The constant use of recyclable plastics within the United States means that the best time to start manufacturing products with a circular economy in mind is now. Consumers are often interested in knowing when a product is made from a recycled material stream, because it means they are making environmentally conscious choices in their day-to-day. The increase in availability of recycled products increases the likelihood that consumers will jump on board with a company’s environmental efforts and purchase products that are responsibly and sustainably made.
In a circular economy, companies are forced to think ahead an extra step or two past the initial manufacturing process. This is a change in mentality that must take place as more and more recycling programs are placed in and around manufacturing sectors. Municipal recycling is so important, as is post-industrial waste management. A waste stream can be more than a burden to be eliminated, it can be a lucrative and useful byproduct of a healthy manufacturing process.
Want to see the shredder in action? Watch it shred!