Plastics Uses

More than 400 million tonnes of plastic materials are used each year throughout the world with substantial growth. We produce and use 25 times as much as we did 50 years ago. There are about 40-60 different types of plastic and hundreds of varieties within those types. Plastics should be marked to help people identify the Ten mains types. After the vigorous campaign, Currently, 75% of post-consumer plastic waste goes to landfill. Plastic production uses 5% – 8% of the world’s oil production. In the UK we use about 6.0 million tonnes per annumPackaging is the largest single user of plastics accounting for over 30% of the UK consumption and it makes up some 8% of the average household’s waste. Supermarkets give away in the region of 130 million plastic carrier bags each week, hence due to vigorous persuasions from WRAP, their current promotion of re-usable bags. The next heaviest user of plastics is the construction industry with just under 30% consumption. Mars Recycling Technology is working with the industry to develop recycling methods to compensate to some degree for this level of usage. One tonne of plastic is the equivalent of 25,000 two-liter drinks bottles or 150,000 carrier bags. The lightness of the material is one of the biggest issues in trying to economically recycle it hence the need to bale plastic to make better volume and weight. Type of plastic – recognition codes these are the most common codes that you will encounter (see right). The following are just examples of how each type may be used: PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate – Drinks bottles and oven-ready meal traysHDPE – High-Density Polyethylene – Bottles for milk and some washing up liquids, also toys, household, and kitchenware.PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride – Foods trays, cling film, squash, water & shampoo bottle LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene – Carrier bags and bin liners, squeeze bottles and heavy-duty sacksPP – Polypropylene – Yoghurt Pots, Margarine tubs, Microwaveable meal traysPS – Polystyrene – Yoghurt pots, Foam Trays, Hamburger boxes, Egg Cartons, Vending Cups, Protective PackagingOther types include:PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) for window frames and drainage pipes,EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) for automotive bumper and door components,HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) for vending cups, toilet seats and bathroom cabinets. How to recycle your plasticMars Recycling Technology is able to accept for recycling most types of plastic providing they are of reasonably pure quality, uncontaminated and have a minimum weight. Mixed plastics are acceptable but have far less recyclable value.LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)This material is normally used as shrink-wrap or wrapping plastic and is a soft plastic that does not have any crinkle in it. To recycle this plastic it must be baled and it must be a reasonable size in weight to warrant the cost of recycling. The plastic must be relatively clean, free from contamination, with not too much printing and very few labels. A low level of contamination is generally acceptable with these quantities.HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)HDPE is also recyclable and has a value. The same basic requirements apply as for the LDPE above.PP (Polypropylene)This is regarded as hard plastic and is normally of an opaque nature. It is recyclable and in a baled form has a higher value per ton than the soft plastic. It needs to be secured in at least 2 ton lots to make it worthwhile for a re-manufacturer to collect it and it must be clear and clean from most contaminates.EPS (Expanded Polystyrene)This is the white “blown up” packing material. It has a much lower value than the plastics and can only be resold if baled and collected in pallets weighing at least half a ton. There must be no contamination in this product but it can be either coloured white. The major problem with this particular material is that, as it weighs very little, it takes a large quantity of un-condensed material to produce a half a ton bale.PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)This material is a clear hard plastic that predominantly is used for such things as pub bottles. The value is significant and can be shipped around the country quite comfortably in half-ton quantities on pallets or in five-ton loads. Providing there is a half-ton load either in a bag or on a pallet or in a big box, it can be moved economically but for smaller amounts, the value reduces dramatically. With hard plastics, the cleanliness is not so critical because it goes through a granulation process that removes any “foreign bodies” and a wash process that will remove any labels or light machine oil etc.