Polyethylene (PE) is the most commonly used plastic; it can be recycled in different ways. The first step in the PE recycling process is to sort and collect the waste based on its type and color. The PE must then be crushed into small pieces for easier processing. These pieces of PE are then melted and remolded into new products, such as plastic bags, bottles or pipes. It is important to note that the PE recycling process can vary depending on the facilities and technologies used.
What is polyethylene?
Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer. It is the most common plastic in the world. It can be recycled and reused to make new products. In France, it represents 70% of the overall consumption of plastic packaging…
It is often found in the following sectors:
- Agriculture: transparent films for greenhouses…
- Industry: storage tanks, body parts…
- Food: packaging and food films
- Health: prosthesis manufacture
- Waste collection: compost bin, trash cans…
This material is obtained by polymerization of ethylene, which consists of uniting several ethylene molecules to form a single one.
There are several categories of polyethylene:
- HDPE: high density polyethylene. It can be used to produce rigid products such as milk bottles, household product bottles, plastic crates and so on. It is often translucent, resistant to cold and heat. HDPE is the plastic material most used for the manufacture of rigid bottles, flasks, pots (transparent, opaque, colored). Its perfect suitability for food or chemical contact allows it to condition both liquids and powders.
- LDPE: low density polyethylene. It is translucent, flexible and resistant to cold. It comes in the form of food films, plastic bags, milk bottle caps…
Why recycle PE?
Recycling PE has several advantages, both for the environment and for our society in general. Firstly, it helps reduce waste by giving a second life to PE products, which would otherwise end up in the trash.
Additionally, recycling polyethylene can help reduce demand for new PE products, which can incentivize companies to produce less and use more sustainable materials. Finally, recycling can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to the production and shipping of new PE products, which can be very polluting.
What are the best methods for recycling polyethylene?
After collection from industries, plastics manufacturers, communities and others, the usable plastics will go through various processes.
Each plastic part will be isolated, stored, crushed, washed, dried and then finally transformed, to be incorporated into new uses.
Recycled plastic as a secondary raw material will be resold on the plastics industry market in ground, powdered or granulated form.