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Improving sustainable plastic recycling practices

February 11, 2021

How Russell Finex’s Liquid Solid Separator™ and Finex Separator ™ can help businesses to increase the efficiency of their industrial plastics recycling process

Almost 5 million tons of plastic are used in the UK each year, with only 32% of it being recycled. According to a recent report at the start of the year by the BPF (British Plastics Federation) the volume of plastics recycled in the UK could increase by up to 3.5 times by 2030 with the right infrastructure and incentives in place.(1)

The recycling industry in the UK is one that is continuing to expand over the next decade, as the demand for improving the efficiency of recycling grows. Whilst the plastics industry as a whole is positively affecting this ongoing challenge to reduce plastic waste, there is still much to be done to reduce the negative effect plastics have on the environment. Reforms and improvements need to be made to the recycling process to increase the recycling of plastics on a yearly basis.

How are plastics recycled?

The most common type of recycling is mechanical recycling, which involves turning plastics into plastic pellets to manufacture into new or similar products (this process is known as closed and open loop recycling, respectively). There are several steps involved in a mechanical plastic recycling process, some of which can be combined or omitted. These steps are:

  1. Collection of plastics bottles and sorting
  2. Washing of bottles or plastics
  3. Resizing
  4. Separation
  5. Compounding

 To ensure more plastic waste can be recycled, and recycled sustainably, the steps that make up this mechanical recycling process need to be optimized. Whilst in theory all plastics can be recycled, not all of them are and certain plastics cannot be mix and recycled together. PVC, PET plastics and HDPE plastics are three of the most widely recycled types, and usually these plastics are ones that are sorted and separated using mechanical methods.

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What challenges face the plastics recycling industry?

There are many major challenges facing the plastics recycling industry’s efforts to become more sustainable. However, minimizing energy footprint and promoting reuse of existing materials are two crucial factors that can be tackled in order to optimize the plastics recycling process for many businesses. Two ways this can be done is through the recovery of plastics wash water, and the efficient removal of contamination from the dedusting of plastic pellets.

Two Russell Finex machines have been optimized to help improve this process: the Russell Liquid Solid Separator™ and the Finex Separator™.

The Russell Liquid Solid Separator™ is a compact and affordable machine, designed as the optimal solution for the removal of solids from wastewater. This industrial centrifugal separator processes the washwater, separating both soft and fibrous solids at a high-capacity, and can even separate on fine meshes down to 20 microns.

The Finex Separator™ is an innovative vibratory separator,  designed for the accurate grading, scalping, and sizing of wet and dry materials. Chopped or ground plastic pellets can be fed into this machine unit, which is ideal for increased sieving capacity compared to other conventional spring-mounted separators.

Read more to find out how Russell Finex’s innovative machinery can help businesses in their sustainability efforts, and overcome major challenges facing the recycling industry.

About Russell Finex

Russell Finex has over 85 years’ experience in industrial manufacturing, providing innovative industrial sieving, separation, and filtration solutions to the recycling industry from plastics to wastewater management. To find out more about our range of solutions and the industries we serve, contact an experienced sales engineer at Russell Finex today.

 


1. “Sustainability in the Plastics Supply-Chain”, British Plastics Federation. https://www.bpf.co.uk/Sustainability/sustainability-in-the-plastics-supply-chain.aspx. Accessed 14th Jan 2021.

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