Recycling: from bottle to bottle

Each year Singaporeans consume over 1.76 billion plastic items such as PET bottles, plastic bags, plastic disposables.  Unfortunately, in 2018, the recycling rate of plastic was only 4%. One of the main challenges in plastic recycling is the segregation of materials. Because of those difficulties, plastic waste is often landfilled, incinerated, or transformed into a lower quality product (downcycling). In a previous post, we explored the recycling of plastic bottles into polyester for clothing. What if we could use plastic bottles to make new plastic bottles and ensure long-term reuse of materials?

This video, prepared by VDI Resource Efficiency Centre, illustrates the different steps from waste collection, sorting, refining, recycling, and reuse of plastic materials. Moreover, the video depicts the improved sorting and processing method for plastics recovery.

MEILO, a company in Gernsheim located in southern Hesse, sorts plastic trash from the yellow barrels in 30 repetitive sorting processes until the maximal purity of variety has been attained. Plastics are first separated according to size and then subjected to an air separator. In the following step, a near-infrared scanner scans the plastics on the conveyor belt as they pass, communicating to a compressed air jet at the end of the conveyor belt which plastics are recyclable. Finally, the compressed air jet blows these materials aside. Thus, varying plastics are sorted by an up to 98% purity of variety. In addition to the three major valuable plastics, HPDE, PP and PET, four other well-recyclable plastic varieties are gleaned from the river of trash.

MEILO, a company in Gernsheim located in southern Hesse, sorts plastic trash from the yellow barrels in 30 repetitive sorting processes until the maximal purity of variety has been attained. Plastics are first separated according to size and then subjected to an air separator. In the following step, a near-infrared scanner scans the plastics on the conveyor belt as they pass, communicating to a compressed air jet at the end of the conveyor belt which plastics are recyclable. Finally, the compressed air jet blows these materials aside. Thus, varying plastics are sorted by an up to 98% purity of variety. In addition to the three major valuable plastics, HPDE, PP and PET, four other well-recyclable plastic varieties are gleaned from the river of trash.

At Systec Plastics GmbH in Eisfeld, Thuringia, the plastics sorted by MEILO GmbH are further processed to produce a premium commodity for the plastics industry. Here, plastics are shredded and cleansed. Repeated circuits beneath a near LED scanner sort the plastic flakes according to color before they are melted and once more filtered. The 99% pure granules are then filled into containers and transported.

Werner & Mertz GmbH, manufacturing laundry detergents and cleaning supplies, use Systec Plastics GmbH granules to produce their packaging bottles. The granules are easily processed in Werner & Mertz GmbH’s standard production plants in Mainz. Their HDPE bottles and PP twist-off lids are made of 100% recycled plastics from the yellow trash can. Their PET bottles are composed of 20% recycled PET from yellow trash cans and 80% recycled plastic from deposit bottles.

Although these developments are extremely promising for the future, it is important to remember that first everything should be done to reduce our consumption of resources, reuse materials as much as possible, and only recycle as a last resort.

Singapore Environment Council : Plastic Resource Research

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About Zero Waste City

Zero Waste City is a consulting business specialised in waste reduction for commercial and industrial facilities. We help companies to save money by reducing waste and to achieve Zero Waste goals. Our services include:

Our services include:

  • Waste audit (quantifying waste streams and identifying immediate cost saving opportunities)
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