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