LDPE Recycling

Low Density or High Density

LDPE stands for low-density polyethylene, which is a thermoplastic that is created from the monomer ethylene. This type of plastic is often utilised in film applications because it is relatively transparent, as well as flexible and tough. It is also used to produce some flexible bottles and lids, as well as being used in cable and wire applications. Below, we are going to explain everything you need to know about polyethylene recycling and the LDPE recycling process.
Polyethylene is usually manufactured in one of two ways; Low Density or High Density. Other than the scientific differences, the most noticeable difference is their strength and weight. We will look specifically at Low-Density Polyethylene Film, something that can be commonly found in homes in the form of cling film.
Cling film was not always made from LDPE, in fact, research shows that previous plastics used for covering food contained leaking chemicals and deemed unsafe to use. LDPE film is also used for agricultural purposes, such as keeping strawberries, mushrooms, and tomatoes fresh. LDPE is thinner than HDPE, but sometimes they are used for similar purposes, like in warehouses, as bubble wrap or for wrapping pallets. Because of how robust the film is, and how transparent, it has become an ideal option for many purposes in industrial applications.

Where will you find this type of plastic in your business?

You will find low-density polyethylene in a number of different items. This can include:

What are the pros and cons of LDPE?

There are many benefits and drawbacks associated with this type of plastic, as is the case for all plastics on the market today. Some of the main benefits of LDPE are:
Some of the main drawbacks of LDPE are:

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Environmental facts

While this may not be the most popular type of plastic for household supplies and food containers, LDPE is present in the home in the form of carrier bags. In the UK, low density polyethylene (LDPE) is the most common form of plastic utilised by manufacturers at 19.3%.
Although these plastic bags disintegrate at a quicker rate than plastic bags made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), they still pose a threat to the environment, and recycling them effectively is imperative.
Although these plastic bags disintegrate at a quicker rate than plastic bags made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), they still pose a threat to the environment, and recycling them effectively is imperative.
By recycling polythene bags, we can reduce the amount of waste in incineration facilities. This ensures we recycle plastic bags into new plastic products, saving this type of polyethylene from harming the environment.

Basics regarding LDPE recycling

LDPE can be recycled, however, the way this is done, and the complexities faced depends on the nature of the plastic. For example, flexible products are more difficult to recycle, especially as they tend to be contaminated by the item they are packaging.
The more rigid form of LDPE is easier to recycle. You will be able to tell whether something is LDPE plastic because the number ‘4’ will be present. You should always make sure to check with your local authority whether it can be recycled within your location in the UK.

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What can recycled-LDPE plastic be made into?

This sort of plastic can be made into a number of different products and uses through polyethylene recycling. Here are some examples to give you a better understanding:

Shipping envelopes

Plastic lumber


Rubbish bin liners


Film plastic

Rubbish bins and compost bins

The LDPE recycling process and its challenges

Let’s take a look at the process involved when it comes to polyethylene recycling, as well as highlighting some of the different challenges faced.
First, the film is collected, often from warehouses or farms  and often after being baled using a waste baler or waste compactor. We supply plastic waste balers for hire. It is taken to a recycling facility. One of the great challenges of recycling LDPE film is that because of its uses in agriculture, it is often contaminated, and must go through a proper cleaning and sorting process before it can be recycled. This can become time, energy and financially inefficient.
Once clean, the other challenge comes for the recycling machines. A general recycling machine would get LDPE film stuck in its teeth, causing damage to the machine and creating problems. On the other hand, special LDPE recycling machines can chew up the plastic into small pieces and then form them into pellets.
These pellets can be turned into a variety of things and are often mixed with a bit of virgin LDPE to improve their strength and reliability. Black bin bags, black agricultural film, or irrigation pipe are all likely to be made from recycled LDPE. Commonly recycled LDPE will be black because, with recycling plastics, it is easy to turn a clear plastic black, but impossible to turn a black plastic clear.
Processing LDPE is among the easiest of the plastics, with the potential for injection moulding, rotational moulding, film blowing and blow moulding. It can be made anti-slip, anti-static, antibacterial and flame retardant. With all this ease and potential, LDPE recycling is a growing industry in the UK but the greatest challenge remains trying to make the plastic clean and decontaminated in an efficient way.

LDPE Recycling for your business

Does your company have LDPE plastic for recycling? Contact one of our team today and find out how we can help your company reduce costs and recycle plastic ethically and safely.
At Plastic Expert we can help guide you through your business recycling needs and make the process as easy, flexible, and efficient as possible.

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