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.

Bunting_Metal_Separation_Module_Recapture_Plastics-7586
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.

bunting_metal_separation_module_recapture_plastics-7611
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

Other Plastics Industry Articles

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

HFS_Grate_Magnet_Plastics-1866

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

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

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

Bunting Vulcanis-1098

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:

Contamination Hinders Plastic Recycling

Metal Contamination is Another Problem Facing Plastic Recycling Companies

The environmental impact of poorly managing plastic waste has been in the headlines since the BBC’s Blue Planet II series was aired at the end of 2017.  In January, Theresa May made a pledge to eliminate the UK’s plastic waste by 2042, although the detail of the plan has yet to be unveiled.  Less than a week later and the EU ‘declared war on plastic waste’, announcing the intention to ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

plastic-trash-in-oceans-and-waterways

Presently, there is an unprecedented negative feeling towards plastics.  However, plastic is and will continue to be one of the most versatile and useful materials available.  This versatility is down to the wide range of plastic types, as can be seen in any household.  Plastic is present in food packaging, mobile phone casings, tables, chairs, DVDs, televisions, and many other everyday items that would not exist unless made of plastic.

Certainly, product designers need to give recyclability a higher priority and this change in attitude is required for all materials and not just for plastics.  At present, plastic is the environmental villain.

Effectively managing plastic waste is not a new problem for the UK.  With the introduction of Material Reclamation Facilities (MRFs) in the 1990s, there was an abundance of segregated materials, including plastics, for which there was no end market.  These were stored or exported overseas, and there were reports of warehouses in Germany stocked full of unrecyclable waste materials.

This resulted in changes in the EU definition of ‘waste’ that prevented the easy movement of secondary materials within Europe, but this did not address the main problem.  The market for materials such as secondary plastics did not exist.  Advances have been made and there are products being made out of recycled waste plastics (e.g. furniture) and even plastic roads.

Technology has advanced, but the main problems remain.  Complex recycling plants are now able to separate different types of plastic by colour and type, but the process is not perfect.  To further complicate the problem, other non-related materials, such as metal and even building materials (e.g. concrete and bricks), contaminate the vast majority of waste plastic packaging.

Contaminated Pre-Sorted Waste

Most plastic packaging enters the recycling process as pre-sorted household waste.  The specification of what materials are mixed in a single recycling bag depends on the recycling strategy of the local council and varies considerably across the UK and Europe.

Recycled UK Bunting Magnetic Separators-3On arrival at a MRF, the collected materials are then separated into metal, plastic, cardboard, and any other materials defined within the local strategy.  Separation of these materials is achieved using either technology or, more commonly, a combination of separation equipment and human pickers.  This is a dirty, difficult, and unpopular environment in which to work.

The ability to successfully separate the materials is compromised by the presence of other waste.  These materials have been incorrectly added to recycling bags at the household or during collection and include used-nappies, food waste, paint tins, and other problematic materials.

At the MRF, metal packaging (e.g. steel and aluminium beverage and food cans) is commonly recovered using Overband Magnets positioned over the main feed conveyor prior to the picking line.  Other materials are manually handpicked and stored separately.  Up until recently, the mix of plastic packaging could then be sent to a specialist UK plastic recycling plant or overseas to countries such as China.

Contaminated Plastic Waste

Since 2012, British companies have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic scrap to mainland China and Hong Kong.  However, this only accounts for two-thirds of all the plastic waste exported from the UK.

Plastic waste sent to China is, where possible, commonly hand-sorted into individual plastic types (i.e. removing plastic tops by hand), with all other added contamination removed manually.  This involves a huge, low-paid workforce.  Similar manually based recycling operations in Europe would be prohibitively costly with unacceptable working conditions.

In December 2017, China announced that in early 2018 it will stop importing “foreign garbage” stating that such waste materials was commonly contaminated with “large amounts of dirty waste or even hazardous wastes”.

Specialist plastic packaging recycling plants in the UK have been under intense financial pressure for many years.  There have been calls for better legislation and Government support, but too many plastic recycling plants open and are then forced to close due to being financial unviable.

A typical plastic recycling operation needs a complex system of separation equipment.  The plant also needs to be able to adapt to huge variations in the nature of the delivered waste plastic.  There are also strict environmental regulations on storing and handling waste plastic.  Such plants are expensive to install and operate.

Hanbury Plastics Bunting Overband Magnet-1

Early in the process, ferrous and non-ferrous metal contamination is removed from the waste plastic using Magnetic Separators and Eddy Current Separators.  Initially, after the plastic is released from the compacted bale, the waste is fed into a primary shredder.  To protect the shredder from damage, an Overband Magnet is suspended across the feed conveyor and removes large ferrous metal.

At this stage, the type of ferrous metal contamination found in the plastic is diverse and often surprising.  It can include metal packaging miss-sorted at the MRF, heavy lumps of iron that increase the weight of the plastic bale, and metal picked up during transportation.  There have even been reports of car engine blocks.  Reasonably sized items of cast iron entering the shredder will cause significant and costly damage and result in the plant being closed until a repair is possible.

After the primary shredder, the waste plastic has been reduced in size and many contaminants liberated.  This shredded waste plastic is fed onto another Magnetic Separator, commonly a Drum Magnet or Pulley Magnet, to remove liberated smaller ferrous metals.

Metal Found in Plastic Recycling Bunting Magnetics-3The type of ferrous metal separated at this stage includes steel spanners, nuts, bolts, screws, fine metal wires, springs, iron shards, fine ferrous dust, and chunks of stainless steel.  Most of the ferrous metal was not part of the original plastic packaging and has been introduced between disposal and processing.

The cleansed plastic waste then passes over an Eddy Current Separator to remove non-ferrous metals.  Commonly separated metals include aluminium beverage cans, foils, tubes, and even window frames.

After the metal contamination has been removed, the plastic waste moves to the next stage in the plant, which could be further separation of contamination or sorting by colour or plastic type.

The high level of metal contamination highlights the challenges facing waste plastic processors.  It was one of many contaminants, not present in the original plastic packaging, that have to be removed.

Before UK and EU Government officials make recycling pledges to pacify environmentalists, they need to consider the practicalities and difficulties faced when processing waste plastic packaging.  Contamination will always be present, and is one of the reasons for exporting this difficult waste material overseas.  Reducing such contamination will make it easier to recycle waste plastic, but there is no clear strategy to achieve this goal at present.

For further information on Bunting Magnetics and Master Magnets and our range of metal separation equipment designed for the waste and recycling sector, please visit our website or contact us on:

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

This article was first published by EPPM Magazine (European Plastic Product Manufacturer) in February 2018.

 

Is Plastic the Recycling Pantomime Villain?

Pressure Grows on Plastics and the Environment

In 2017 the media has gradually increased the pressure on the plastics industry by highlighting the effect of waste plastic in our global environment.  This focus shows no sign of going away, with the UN oceans chief stating that Ocean plastic is a ‘planetary crisis’.  

plastic-trash-in-oceans-and-waterways

Ironically, in many cases plastics are primarily used because they reduce weight and thus save energy and our natural resources.  Plastic packaging also significantly reduces food waste by keeping it fresh and is used when transporting food around the globe.

The world’s first fully synthetic plastic dates back to 1907 when the material bakelite was invented in New York by Leo Baekeland.  He also coined the term ‘plastics’.  Since then plastic has become one of the most versatile and used materials on the planet.

So why have we fallen out of love with plastic?

In July, we reported that academics were predicting that there would be 12 million metric tonnes of plastic being in landfill or the natural environment by 2050.  The recent David Attenborough nature series Blue Planet II shown on BBC1 has shown how waste plastic is found in our oceans, even reaching the depths of the Mariana Trench.

However, as highlighted by the British Plastics Federation at the UK’s waste and recycling show RWM (held in Birmingham, UK September 2017), the ‘plastic waste’ problem is complicated.

bunting_metal_separation_module_recapture_plastics-7611The fundamental global problem is that 2 million people do not have access to solid waste collection (United Nations).  The properties of plastic that make it so useful in our everyday lives also makes it difficult to breakdown and easy to get blown and transported away from the rubbish dump and into the local environment.  Gradually, this plastic waste will migrate down to the sea.

The larger problem is the origin of plastic waste.  In the developed world of the USA and Europe, investment in research and technology means that those countries only contribute approximately 2% of the plastic found in oceans.  82% is estimated to originate in Asia (The British Plastics Federation).

The problem is not just a ‘plastic waste’ issue but a ‘waste’ issue in general.  Plastic is not the only product being thrown away and ending up in our oceans.  Industrial waste is a huge problem, but is presently not the focus of attention.  In many developing countries dealing with waste is simply not their most important problem to address.  Malnutrition, housing, transport, jobs are all higher on the list of priorities.

Plastic has become waste’s ‘pantomime villain’.

This global problem needs a global solution.  There is no doubt that the designers of plastic products have a huge responsibility and need to consider the consequences of ideas such as introducing plastic microbeads into cosmetic products.

Bunting BPI-6151In the UK, we presently recycle 29% of our plastic and our target for 2020 is 57%.  The figure is so low due to the complexity of the process and economics.  Magnetic Separators, Eddy 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.  Until that happens, plastic waste will continue to pose a problem.

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 articles on Plastics Recycling include:

Environmental Issues Highlighted at Interplas 2017

Interplas Exhibition Well Supported by Plastics Industry 

On the morning of day 2 of the Interplas 2017 exhibition (26th – 28th September, NEC, Birmingham, UK), BBC Radio 5 Live featured a news item reporting that UK pub operator, JD Weatherspoon, had decided to stop using plastic straws.  This announcement highlighted the challenges facing the plastics sector.

Bunting Magnetics Europe at Interplas 2017

Interplas 2017 is the UK’s premier show for the plastics sector and proved to be a great success.  As experienced at many UK trade exhibitions, the footfall was not as seen at shows in the USA, Germany or other European countries, but the visitors to the Bunting stand had specific metal contamination issues in their plastics production process that needed a solution.

However, plastics and their environmental impact continue to hit the headlines.  Indeed, there were two large posters on the stand of the British Plastics Federation asking:

“As we supply equipment both to companies manufacturing primary plastic products and recycling plastics, we see the problem from both sides,” said Dave Hills, Bunting’s Head of Sales.Bunting Magnetics Europe at Interplas 2017

“Even when manufacturing primary plastics, it has been common and good practice for companies to recycle and reuse their plastic waste for many years.  Indeed, this often necessitates the need for Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors, removing any rogue metal introduced during this recycling process.”

“However, the real challenge is collecting, processing and then producing a usable plastic product from recovered secondary plastic materials.  Again, we have installed Metal Separation Systems to remove ferrous and non-ferrous metals (eg at Recapture Plastics), but there remain challenges with the end market for the final recycling-sourced plastic product.”

There appears to be a growing appetite for focusing on the issue of plastics in the environment.  The implementation of charges for plastic bags by firstly the Welsh, and then the UK governments may be the first of many initiatives to reduce the use of plastic products.  The latest announcement by JD Weatherspoon about banning plastic straws is expected to be followed by similar announcements by other major coffee shops and food outlets.

At Interplas 2017, the vast majority of the exhibitors were focused on primary plastic production.  With the ever-increasing global focus on environmental issues, we wonder how different the exhibitor and visitor make-up will be at Interplas 2020.

For further information on Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors for removing metal during the primary plastic production process or in a recycling operation, please contact us on:

 

Plastics and the Environment

The Necessity of a Global Strategy for Plastics Waste

Since 1950, it is estimated that 8.3 million metric tonnes of virgin plastics have been produced.  Of this, 6.3 million metric tonnes has become waste, with 9% being recycled and 12% incinerated.  This leaves 79% that is accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.

The report written by Geyer, Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law is concerning with a prediction of 12 million metric tonnes of plastic being in landfill or the natural environment by 2050.

Hanbury Plastics Bunting Overband Magnet-7975In the UK, organisations such as The British Plastics Federation (BPF) identify sustainability as being key to the future growth of the plastics sector.  They report that the UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 29% is currently being recovered or recycled.  The UK has a plastics recycling target of 57% by 2020 and the BPF and Plastics Europe with the support of WRAP are implementing the Plastics Industry Recycing Action Plan (PIRAP) to help meet this target.  However, increasing the amount of plastic being recovered or recycled by 28% in 3 years appears to be exceptionally challenging and maybe unreachable.

The application of plastics technology continues to grow, with the UK launching a new plastic £10 note in September 2017.  And this is because plastics technology produces such versatile and resilient products, properties that make it equally difficult to manage once it has been used and becomes waste.

Designing plastic products to enable easy reuse and recycling appears to be the key.  However, often the aesthetic appearance of a plastic packaging product takes precedence over the post-use waste functionality.

Bunting_Metal_Separation_Module_Recapture_Plastics-7590

As an equipment supplier, we understand the difficulties of recycling plastics.  Even though we can remove the metal contamination with Magnetic Separators, Eddy Current Separators, and Metal Detectors, a substantial amount of further processing is required with colour and plastic type separation is often required.  We will be exhibiting at Interplas 2017 (NEC, Birmingam, UK 26th – 28th September), the UK’s premier show for the plastics sector, and it will be interesting to see and hear the ideas and thoughts of the industry.

Designers of plastic products, especially packaging, need to be creative and give reuse and recycling a higher priority during the concept phase.  With the prediction of an ever-increasing production of plastic, a workable environmental strategy has never been more important.

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 articles on Plastics Recycling include: