So what is plastic recycling?

Strictly speaking, plastic recycling in Cape Town involves a substance without raw material input and without a very high consumption of energy becoming exactly what it used to be. Recycling is, in the most ideal case: “The reuse of plastic, whereby the recycled material can be used in the same way as new plastic.”

However, in common usage we understand the recycling of garbage under recycling. The production and consumption of goods generates waste. The recycling of this waste into the material cycle by recycling is called R.

With recycling a distinction is made between the repeated use of plastic, known as Z. B. is used in returnable bottles, reused in production (for example, bottles to waste glass), and is re-used in other production processes (i.e. production of steel from scrap). And finally it is re-used in new applications (use of waste paper as insulation material).

Why should we recycle?

Recycling reduces excess waste (as there is hardly any landfill space left). Additionally, it is necessary to protect the increasingly scarce raw materials and energy sources we have left.

It is best, however, to vilify garbage. This is the least polluting environment. Plastics do not decompose completely in millions of years, so our descendants will still enjoy our garbage.

A large proportion of plastics produced are already fit (after a relatively short time) for waste disposal or recycling. Plastic waste can be disposed of in landfills and incinerators. However, storing plastic waste in landfills is the worst solution because it is removed from any further use.

What can you use recycled plastic for?

In incinerators, plastic waste serves as a substitute for primary fuels (coal, petroleum, gas). The resulting heat of combustion is used as district heating, for steam production or for power generation.

In the automotive industry, a novel technology separates plastics from car wrecks so that the same parts are reproduced over and over.

The waste resulting from the production of these plastic products is normally ground here . And then returns to the production process, so that no plastic waste is left over.

The complexity of plastic recycling

A major problem for plastic recycling in Cape Town is that there are many different types of plastics with many additives. Plastics are not sorted, even if it is already collected separately in the household. Even if the dyes and plasticizers were visible by labeling, it is economically unprofitable to carry out this separation. This is because the plastics to be recycled must compete in the market with the cheap new manufactured plastics. In addition, the final properties of the recycled material are often inferior to those of the new plastics, since it is not possible to separate them precisely.

Therefore, it is sometimes cheaper to process the plastic waste in a different way. At the moment, plastics are being separated, creating rather ‘pure’ plastic waste streams that can be further processed separately. One problem with this is that there are many different plastics, creating different waste streams. When it comes to plastic recycling in Cape Town, for example, plastics such as polyethylene (PE) is not a problem in itself. This is because the total volume is sufficient for further processing. But in others, further processing is not worthwhile because of the small amount.