The Changing Face of Plastics Recycling

The Big Story Headline Article in British Plastics & Rubber (Nov/Dec 18 Issue)

The BBC’s Blue Planet II appeared on our television screen in September 2017.  The amazing documentary series highlighted the challenges faced by marine life and generated a global anti-plastic tidal wave that shows no sign of diminishing.  However, has anything actually changed?

Since September 2017, there has been a swathe of political rhetoric culminating in the UK’s Autumn 2018 budget announcements.  Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined several new measures to tackle plastic waste.  This included introducing a new tax from 1 April 2022 on produced or imported plastic packaging that does not include at least a 30 per cent recycled content.

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Baled cleaned plastic waste

The European parliament is also taking action against plastic waste.  Under the parliament-backed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021.  Additionally, 90% of all plastic bottles would be recycled by 2025.

However, the fundamental difficulties in collecting, separating and re-using plastic remain.  In the UK, each council adopts their own recycling strategy.  Households in different regions are told to separate and collect different materials.  Swindon council has taken one step further and is considering burning plastic along with other rubbish rather than sending the material abroad for recycling.  Other councils, such as Basingstoke, has instructed residents to only recycle certain types of plastic.  Despite the Chancellor committing £20 million to tackle plastics and boost recycling, there is no unified country-wide strategy.

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Baled plastic waste

The successful recycling of any material requires good planning and execution.  Ironically, this must start at the end of the process.  Firstly waste plastic must be clearly categorised into material than is recyclable and unrecyclable, possibly using the global definition proposed by Plastics Recycling Europe and The Association of Plastic Recyclers.  This ensures that recovered plastic waste can be re-used.  Recovering, transporting and then discarding materials than are unrecyclable is costly in terms of effort, money and energy.

Ongoing research and changes in product design, will identify new techniques to broaden the scope of recyclable plastic waste.  The criteria for plastic waste collection will change accordingly.

Secondly. strategically located plastic waste recycling plants are needed to keep transportation to a minimum.  Each plant will receive the same mix of plastic waste, enabling continued development and improvement of the recycling process.  This stops each plant having to develop unique processes to suit the plastic waste collected in one region.

Hanbury Plastics Bunting Overband Magnet-2
Plastic Waste Recycling Plant

By having a clear country-wide recycling collection specification, contamination levels of the plastic waste will reduce.  Separation technology, such as magnetic separators and metal detectors, will still be required, but the purity levels of the end-product will increase.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
Metal contamination removed from granulated plastic waste

Politicians have only introduced these new policies due to the unprecedented reaction from the general public.  However, setting a target without any definitive plan of how to achieve that result may be considered foolish.  Equally, introducing new taxes, that may ultimately be paid by the consumer, is not addressing the key issues that prevent plastic waste from being recycled.  It is time for the politicians to sit down with the industry and agree a proper plan.

For further information about metal separation equipment designed for removing metal during the plastic or plastic product manufacturing process, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Photographs taken by Paul Fears Photography

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3 Successful Plastics Recycling Projects for Recycle Week

Celebrating Recycling Success

The theme of the 2018 Recycle Week (24-30 September)  is ‘Recycling. We do. Because it matters.’  Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling, organised by WRAP under the ‘Recycle Now‘ brand.

Recycling has never been more prominent in the news, with managing plastic waste high on the agenda.  We work with many plastic recycling companies and have provided many magnetic separators and metal detectors to remove metal contamination.  To celebrate Recycle Week we wanted to talk about plastics recycling success and also highlight the changes faced by companies recycling plastic.

EcoVyn Reduce Waste by 94% with Bunting Drawer Magnets

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn

EcoVyn Ltd is at the forefront of PVC compounding and brings pioneering new technology to the market place.  They offer one of the most advanced and innovative production processes in the UK producing reprocessed, blended and virgin compounds for a variety of applications.  By installing Drawer Magnet Filters, EcoVyn reduced their waste by 94%.

HFS Drawer Magnets Removes Metal from Recycled Plastics

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A French plastic recycling company installed the Drawer Magnets to remove fine iron contamination present in the recovered and granulated plastic.  If the metal is left in the reclaimed plastic, it causes serious defects in the new plastic product and can also damage processing equipment.

Metal Separation Module Cleans Recycled Plastics for Recapture Plastics

Bunting Metal Separation System Recapture Plastics LinkedIn

A new plastics recycling plant was built in Kent, UK.  The plant was designed to handle up to 25 tonnes per hour of reclaimed plastic.  Once shredded, the plastic is passed over a strong Drum Magnet (to remove small ferrous metals) followed by an Eddy Current Separator (to remove non-ferrous metals).  The end product is also passed through a Quicktron Metal Detector prior to the clean plastic being bagged ready for shipment.

Contamination Hinders Plastic Recycling

We work with many plastic recycling companies located across the world.  Every company is faced with the problem of contamination.  Contaminated plastic waste is worthless and processing is required to remove contaminants, such as metal and stone, to make this waste product reusable.

We are fortunate to be working with some amazing companies in the waste and recycling sector.  Their innovation and knowledge continually increases the amount of materials we can recycle and reuse.

For further information metal separation equipment designed for removing metal from plastic waste and in other recycling applications, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Photographs taken by Paul Fears Photography

Other Plastic Waste & Recycling Articles

3 Facts About Plastic Packaging Waste

Latest 2016 Waste Recycling DEFRA Data

The UK’s largest recycling exhibition, RWM, takes place on the 12th and 13th September 2018 (NEC, Birmingham, UK).  Leading up to the show, we wanted to review three key facts relating to the latest DEFRA data (from 2016) on plastic packaging waste (published in February 2018).

Waste Drinks Containers-9048

The Amount of Plastic Packaging Waste

UK households generated 1,015,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2016.  This is actually 12% lower than in 2012, although the amount has been relatively stagnant since 2103.  In 2016, 20% of all packaging waste was plastic (by weight), although this percentage would be far higher if measured by volume due to the low bulk density of the material.

A Rising Recycling Rate

45% of plastic packaging was recycled or recovered in 2016 compared with 25% in 2012.  The 2016 figure is higher than the EU target of 22.5%.  Since the beginning of 2018, the UK Government has set a new recycling and recoverable target of 57% by 2020.  This means that new strategies are needed to raise the rate by 12% in just four years.

Plastic Packaging Recycling Rates

However, there remains a question about what to do with the plastic once it has been recovered.  The UK still exports a large proportion of its waste, but this is still classed as being ‘recovered’ and is included in the 45%.  Since China closed their doors to waste, plastic waste has being shipped to countries around the world, including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.  This is not a sustainable solution, but it not reported in the statistics.  An increasing amount of plastic waste is expected to remain in the UK and it is unclear how it will be managed.

Plastics Recycling Plants

It is widely accepted that there are not enough plastic recycling plants in the UK.  In the past, it has been difficult to economically operate a plant with high costs associated with equipment investment and site difficulties due to the flammable nature of plastic waste.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
FF Drawer Filter Magnets (supplied by Bunting Magnetics Europe Ltd) removing metal from plastic waste to enable recycling

One successful plant is located near Wrexham in North Wales where EcoVyn process 1,000 tonnes per month of good quality plastic waste.  EcoVyn installed several Drawer Filter Magnets to remove ferrous metal contamination from the granulated plastic.

The Future

There has been a huge change in the public perception of plastic waste since the showing of the BBC series Blue Planet II in 2017.  This has forced politicians to start taking action and it will be interesting to see the level of political and governmental engagement at the RWM exhibition.

For further information on metal separation equipment designed for removing metal from plastic waste and in other recycling applications, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Other Plastic Waste & Recycling Articles

Defining Plastics Recyclability

Global Definition of Recyclable Plastic Packaging and Products Released

The global outcry of hostility against plastic products has been gathering momentum since the end of 2017 and, subsequently, politicians and governments have pledged to introduce measures to reduce plastic waste.   However, many of these new policies have been deemed to be popularist and lacking in substance.

plastic-bottles

Many governments, including the European Union, have set recycling targets that have been questioned by the recycling and plastics industries.  The EU has made a pledge to have all plastic packaging recyclable or reusable by 2030, a far more aggressive strategy that the UK Government’s plan for plastic waste reduction.

However, until recently, there has not been a definition to govern the use of the term “recyclable” and so how could any of those targets be quantified?  Due to the public outrage about how plastic waste is damaging our planet, politicians have wanted to be seen to take urgent action, but maybe a more considered approach is needed.  Should the first step be to engage with:

  • Plastic product designers and producers;
  • Companies who will ultimately recycle the products;
  • Businesses that will use the recycled plastic products in the manufacture of new products.

One issue that has often plagued the waste sector is the defining the terminology.  Even the classification of “Waste” differs from country to country.

However, two leading global international plastics recycling organisations have worked together to define the term “recyclable” in terms of plastic products and packaging.  In July 2018, Brussels-based Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers in Washington, USA have concluded that there are four conditions that define a plastic product as being “recyclable”.  These are:

  1. The product must be made with a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated program;
  2. The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processes;
  3. The product can be processed and reclaimed/recycled with commercial recycling processes;
  4. The recycled plastic becomes a raw material that is used in the production of new products;

Technology already exists to help with the sorting of plastic waste into defined streams.  Additionally, there is processing equipment available to remove contamination such as metal (Magnetic Separators, Eddy Current Separators, Metal Detectors) and other contaminants (Optical, X-Ray, Infra-Red).

A recent case history report highlighted how EcoVyn, a PVC compounder in the UK, already processes 1000 tonnes of plastic waste each month of which 80% is post-consumer.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn

Such clarity of the definition of whether a plastic product is really “recyclable” can only be beneficial, assisting product designers, users and recyclers.  However, it remains unclear whether the EU, UK and other governments will use this new definition when setting their recycling and plastic waste targets.

For further information on metal separation equipment designed for removing metal from plastic waste and in other recycling applications, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Other Plastic Waste & Recycling Articles

EcoVyn Reduce Waste by 94% with Bunting Drawer Magnets

Magnetic Separators Remove Contamination from Plastic Waste

EcoVyn Ltd has installed two Bunting Drawer Filter Magnets to remove ferrous metal contamination from plastic waste.  Since the installation of the magnetic separators, EcoVyn has reduced their waste by 94%.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
Bunting Drawer Filter in situ at EcoVyn

EcoVyn Ltd is at the forefront of PVC compounding and brings pioneering new technology to the market place.  They offer one of the most advanced and innovative production processes in the UK producing reprocessed, blended and virgin compounds for a variety of applications.

EcoVyn first met Bunting at the Interplas international plastics exhibition in September 2017.  The company use a high proportion of plastic waste, of which 80% is post-consumer.  Presently, EcoVyn processes 1000 tonnes per month of good quality reclaimed plastic waste, which they plan to increase to 16,000 tonnes per annum.  The cleansed plastic waste is blended into virgin material, resulting in a 90% output of grade A product.  Waste generated during the manufacturing process is also recycled leaving less than 1% being discarded.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
Granulated plastic waste

However, plastic waste is often highly contaminated with metal.  Metal Detectors were already installed to remove the metal contamination, but the reject rate was very high with over 60 tonnes of waste being generated, of which a high proportion was good quality plastic.

At Interplas, EcoVyn explained the problem to the Bunting team who agreed to conduct a site review.  During the review it was concluded that easily removable magnetically-susceptible metal could be removed, leaving the metal detectors to detect and separate non-ferrous metals.  This would then significantly reduce the number of metal detector rejections and, therefore, the amount of waste generated.

After a review of the process, Drawer Filter Magnets were recommended to be installed between the screw conveyor transporting the 8-10mm sized infeed material and the metal detector.  The metal-cleansed material would then pass onto a pulveriser before continuing through the process.

The Bunting Drawer Filter Magnet is used widely in the plastics industry and enables the simple and effective removal of ferrous metal from free-flowing materials.  The Drawer Filters installed at EcoVyn have two rows of high strength Rare Earth Neodymium Magnets.  The top row has two Tube Magnets with three in the second row aligned to sit below the gap in the top row.  This ensures that all the product strikes at least one of the Tube Magnets, where ferrous metal is attracted by the strong magnetic field and captured.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
Ferrous metal captured on the surface of the Tube Magnets

After the installation of Drawer Filter Magnets, the amount of waste was reduced from 60 tonnes to 4 tonnes.

Since installing the Drawer Filter Magnets, EcoVyn has established that a 20 minutes cleaning frequency is required, highlighting the high level of metal contamination commonly found in plastic waste.  The ferrous metal found captured on the Tube Magnets ranges from small fine ferrous dust to nails, washers, steel sheet shards and electrical capacitors.

Bunting Magnetics Drawer Magnets at Ecovyn
Ferrous metals captured by the Bunting Drawer Grate Magnet including nails, a capacitor, washer, wire and steel sheet shard

Following the installation of the Bunting Drawer Filter Magnets, controlled laboratory tests have been conducted at Bunting’s Master Magnets facility in Birmingham which indicated that 99.9% of all ferrous metals had been removed.

The final plastic product produced by EcoVyn is then used to manufacture products such as pipe, internal windows, beading, picture frames, and shoe soles.

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Metal Separation Demos Ignite Interest at IFAT 2018

Visitors to IFAT 2018 Enthralled by Working Magnetic Separators

An Eddy Current Separator was violently expelling non-ferrous metals from plastic waste on one side of the stand, whilst large chunks of fragmented stainless steel were being separated by the SSSC on the other.  ‘Seeing Is Believing’ was very much the basis of the Bunting and Master Magnets stand at IFAT 2018 (14th – 18th May 2018).

“We wanted to showcase our metal separation technology,” explained Dave Hills, Bunting’s Head of Sales, “and that meant having production-sized equipment operating on the stand.  The positive reaction of visitors highlighted the importance of being able to show metal being separated.”

IFAT is the first major waste and recycling exhibition of 2018 in Europe, featuring 3,305 exhibitors and over 141,000 visitors.  Key topics discussed during the week-long show included the filtering of microplastics; more effective recycling of plastics; and the digital transformation of the entire industry.

“Effective metal separation is vital for the successful recycling and reuse of many secondary materials,” said Dave.  “As a specialist in Magnetic Separation, we believed that the IFAT show provided the perfect platform to show recycling companies what is possible.  The show proved to be exceptionally successful and we are now in discussion with companies all over the world.”

Following the IFAT exhibition, many companies who visited the stand are sending samples to the Master Magnets laboratory in the UK for controlled tests to confirm the separation capability of both the Eddy Current Separator and Stainless Steel Magnetic Separator.

“There was a lot of interest in the Stainless Steel Magnetic Separator.  Stainless steel is a problematic material and, due to it’s hardness, can cause real problems in granulators and shredders.  Visitors were often surprised to see large fragmented stainless steel being attracted and separated.  It has generated a huge amount of interest and there is a lot of work to do.”

For further information on the Magnetic Separation equipment on display at IFAT, please contact Dave Hills on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: dhills@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Plastics Positivity at Technivation

Polymer Training and Innovation Centre Hosts UK Plastics Sector Professionals

The Technivation conference, hosted by the Polymer Training and Innovation Centre in Telford (18th April 2018), attracted delegates from across the UK plastics sector.

The Polymer Training and Innovation Centre (PITC) provides training for engineers working with plastics and has an extensive range of working equipment including moulding machines, pneumatic conveying systems, and magnetic separators.

Bunting Europe at TechnivationAt Technivation, there were talks from machinery manufacturers and also an industry update from the British Plastics Federation.  BPF Membership Services Director, Stephen Hunt, highlighted a change in the awareness and public perception of plastics since the airing of the BBC Blue Planet II series at the end of 2017.  The BPF have been working hard to clarify misconceptions about plastics, highlighting that plastic is vital in the manufacture of so many products including cars, medical equipment, and IT.  They are presently working closely with the UK Government on the proposed tax for single use plastics, which closes on 18th May 2018.

As Stephen Hunt explained, the plastics sector is the 8th largest exporting industry in the UK with a turnover of £25.5 billion.  The sector is also the 2nd largest employer in the manufacturing industry.  He also highlighted how waste from the USA and European Union combined only contributes 2% to the amount of plastic waste found in our oceans.

Delegates at Technivation had the opportunity to tour the training facility and meet representatives from equipment manufacturers including Summit Systems, Kistler, Arburg, and Staubli.  Tom Higginbottom, Bunting’s Sales Engineer, was demonstrating how to effectively remove metal from the plastics process using a combination of a FF Drawer Filter Magnet and Quicktron Metal Detector.

“At Technivation it was really good to be able to demonstrate how to remove metal and also to show how the equipment is actually installed on a working moulding machine,” explained Tom.  “We supplied the FF Drawer Filter Magnets to PTIC so that the importance of metal removal is included in the training programmes.”

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Bunting Europe at Technivation

New UK Drinks Container Recycling Strategy Creates ‘Bottleneck’

UK Waste Plan Means More Recycling Plants

The UK Government’s announcement that people in England will soon have to pay a deposit when they buy drinks bottles and metal cans [28th March 2018] in an attempt to curb waste is expected to create a ‘bottleneck’ in the recycling chain.  Scotland has previously announced plans for a deposit return scheme and Wales has launched a study to consider it.

drinking-water-filter-singapore-1235578_960_720Other countries, including Sweden and Germany, already operate schemes where people pay a deposit when purchasing some drinking containers.

This latest announcement may be considered as a knee-jerk reaction to the global dismay about plastic waste following the airing of the Blue Planet II series.   Environment Secretary Michael Gove said there was no doubt that plastic was “wreaking havoc” on the marine environment and discarded plastic bottles and cans “end up dumped on pavements and lobbed into rivers, lakes and the sea”.

Although most people agree with the sentiment of the new policy, there are serious concerns about the UK’s ability to handle the increase in the amount of plastic waste.  The UK Government has not outlined how the recovered plastics will be recycled and how it will work financially.

Already, since China banned plastic waste imports [January 2018] there have been concerns about how the UK will manage plastic waste, especially as 2.7 million tonnes was shipped to China since 2012.  This new policy will potentially reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill, but also add to the amount of plastic waste that was previously shipped to China.  That equates to a lot of plastic waste.

Are There Enough Plastic Recycling Plants?

An increase in recovered plastic waste means that there needs to be a significant growth in the number of specialist recycling plants.  However, profitably operating a plastics recycling plant has proven to be difficult, with many plants being commissioned and then closed or sold within a very short space of time.

Bunting Metal Separation System Recapture Plastics
Metal Separation Module in a Plastics Recycling Plant in Kent

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There has been an established network for the collection and successful recycling of steel and aluminium beverage cans for decades.  Part of the reason for the success is that both materials are easily recyclable, using a combination of Magnetic Separators and Eddy Current Separators, and converted into new steel and aluminium.  Presently, the same cannot be said for plastic.

The UK Government may decide to commit all the collected deposits to expanding and funding a network of specialist recycling plants, although where this money will go is is presently unclear.  It will be interesting to hear if there are plans to invest in the development of technology to enable successfully and financially viable mixed plastic recycling.  Also, will product designers now be forced to consider the recyclability of a product rather than the aesthetic appearance?

Certainly, a holistic plan is needed before this new initiative is put in place.

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Other relevant waste and recycling articles:

 

Is Recycling in UK Reaching Crisis Point?

Troubled Times for the UK and European Recycling Sectors

There appears to be a distinct disconnect between the political rhetoric and what is actually happening in the waste and recycling sector.  In the UK, Theresa May has pledged to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 and the European government has ‘declared war’ on plastic waste setting a target of having all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030.

China WasteHowever, it has been reported [BBC News 1st March 2018] that waste recycling rates in the UK are falling for over 14 million households.  Also, China’s import restrictions on waste materials has put tremendous pressure on the recycling sector and it is anticipated that UK firms are likely to close [MRW].

The global problem of Plastic Waste has been at the top of the media agenda since the BBC’s Blue Plant II showed how it is contaminating our world and endangering our wildlife.  The noise from environmental activists and the general population has been deafening.

Surfer and Plastic WastePoliticians had to respond and announced targets for dealing with plastic waste.  However, the announcements do not include details about how these tough targets are going to be met.

In the UK, we presently recycle 29% of our plastic, although this figure is presently under debate [Industry ‘exaggerates plastics recycling success’ – BBC News 6th March 2018].  The target for 2020 is 57% and 0% by 2042.  The present recycling rate is low due to the complexity of the process and economics.  Magnetic SeparatorsEddy Current Separators and Metal Detectors remove metal and there is other technology to sort by colour and plastic type.  However, producing a useful plastic from waste that can be introduced as a raw material into primary plastic production (such as happens with aluminium and steel) is presently exceptionally difficult.  Contamination at the collection source, during transportation, and during process is one of many problems.  Until those issue are addressed, plastic waste will continue to pose a problem.

Bunting Overband Magnet over Conveyor 2

The solution has been shipping mixed waste materials to China and other countries for manual separation.  This is no longer an option, at least in China.

A cohesive plan of action is required, with the setting of realistic targets reflecting the technology and economics of waste recycling.  At present, it appears that politicians are just making statements to appease the masses.

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Other relevant waste and recycling articles: