Plastics industry leaders are turning to machine design in their effort to limit plastic waste.
Most of this waste is polypropylene. Used almost daily, it’s in every home. Consumers can’t live without their water bottles, battery cases, and even textiles like carpet. Polypropylene is found in medical devices, chairs, toothbrushes, automotive parts, and more. This thermoplastic material is lightweight, stain-resistant, and water-repellant.
Unless treated with excessive heat, it’s also nearly indestructible.
As a result, we recycle only 1% of our plastic waste. The other 99% floats in waterways and oceans, or it sits in landfills with no possibility of going anywhere soon.
Repurposing plastic waste
Leaders in plastics manufacturing have been aware of the challenges regarding plastics use. They understand the vital need for plastic products; but like many people, they are concerned about product end-of-life. In other words, what happens to plastic waste?
Perhaps more importantly, what can we do with all the waste?
Sorting within machine design
The first step in handling waste is to know what it’s made of. Then the waste must be sent to the appropriate recycling station.
Arburg’s Michael Sansoucy suggests using machine design to tag plastic in production according to its contents. For example, he’d like to tag plastics with a digital watermark that allows machines to identify later the type of plastic used. By grouping plastics according to their characteristics, recycling becomes more focused.
Sorted plastics are easier to repurpose.
Product end-of-life plans
Once the plastics groups are pure, infinite reincarnations present themselves in circular production, also known as a continuous recycling loop.
The plastic bottle cap you used last month may reappear as a spork this month. The used spork may become a dashboard button in your next vehicle, and the carpet in that vehicle will go on to live a new life as a plastic teething ring for your grandchild.
By planning ahead for plastic end-of-life, savvy manufacturers are not only creating the products needed for improved quality of life; but also they are thinking ahead to continuous recycling to deal with plastic waste.
Contact a plastic and modern metals recruiter today if you’d like to be part of the holistic process of turning plastic waste into products with new purposes. The recruiter can match your skills and passion with the company who will value what you offer.
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