Plastic

Plastic Recycling

The main types of waste plastic are as follows:

1          Polyethylene Tetraphthalate (PET)
2          High Density Polythene (HDPE)
3          Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
4          Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
5          Polypropylene (PP)
6          Polystyrene (PS)
7          Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

 

1 Polyethylene Tetraphthalate (PET)

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Clear
  • Hard
  • Tough
  • Solvent resistant
  • Good gas and moisture barrier properties
  • High heat resistance
  • Microwave transparency

Common uses:

The good gas and moisture properties of PET, together with the fact that it is tough and clear, make it ideal for fizzy drink and beer bottles. Its high heat resistance makes it especially suitable for pre-prepared food trays and boil-in-bag food pouches. Other common uses include soft drink and water bottles, fibre for clothing and carpets, strapping, and mouthwash bottles. PET is now replacing HDPE in many applications, such as shampoo bottles etc.


 

Photographs

PET Strapping (single colours)

PET Sheet (rolls)

2 High Density Polythene (HDPE)

 

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Excellent moisture barrier properties
  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • Hard to semi-flexible
  • Strong
  • Soft waxy surface
  • Permeable to gas
  • HDPE film crinkles to the touch
  • Pigmented HDPE bottles generally have better stress crack and chemical resistance than bottles made from unpigmented HDPE

Common uses:

The excellent chemical resistance of HDPE makes it ideal for packaging household and industrial chemicals, such as detergents, bleach and acids. Its moderate stretch and high strength characteristics make it especially suitable for grocery bags, as found in most supermarkets. Other common uses include film, especially snack food packages and cereal box liners, milk and non-carbonated drinks bottles, margarine tubs, toys, buckets, rigid pipes, crates, plastic lumber, garden furniture, flower pots, and signs. As HDPE is permeable to gas it is not suitable for applications requiring an oxygen or CO2 barrier.


Photographs

HDPE scrap

Baled HDPE

3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Excellent transparency
  • Hard, rigid (flexible when plasticised)
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Long term stability
  • Good weathering ability
  • Stable electrical properties
  • Low gas permeability

Common uses:

PVC has been successfully used for pipes and fittings due to its chemical resistance, imperviousness to attack by bacteria or micro-organisms, corrosion resistance and strength. It is frequently used in food contact applications, especially frozen foods due to its low oxygen permeability and strong cold temperature properties. Other common uses include carpet backing, windows, water, shampoo and vegetable oil bottles, credit cards, wire and cable sheathing, floor coverings, synthetic leather products, coatings, and blood bags and medical tubing.


Photographs

PVC film (rolls)

PVC film (bales)

PVC (post use)

4 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Tough
  • Flexible
  • Waxy surface
  • Soft – scratches easily
  • Good transparency
  • Low melting point
  • Stable electrical properties
  • Good moisture barrier properties

Common uses:

Due to its flexibility and other properties LDPE is used predominantly to manufacture films such as garment and produce bags, agricultural films, refuse sacks, and packaging films, foams and bubble wrap. Other uses include flexible lids, flexible bottles, wire and cable applications, some bottle tops, and irrigation pipes.


Photographs

LDPE film (clear)

LDPE film (baled) LDPE scrap (lump)

5 Polypropylene (PP)

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • High melting point
  • Hard, but flexible
  • Waxy surface
  • Translucent
  • Strong

Common uses:

PP is found in everything from flexible and rigid packaging to fibres for fabrics and carpets and large moulded parts for automotive and consumer products, such as automobile battery casings. Most bottle tops are made from PP. Other common uses include ketchup and pancake syrup bottles, yoghurt and margarine containers, potato crisp bags, drinking straws, hinged lunch boxes, refrigerated containers, medicine bottles, crates, plant pots, and heavy gauge woven bags or tarps.


Photographs

PP scrap (bagged)

PP containers

PP film (clear)

6 Polystyrene (PS)

SPI Code

General properties:

  • Clear to opaque
  • Glassy surface
  • Rigid
  • Hard
  • Brittle
  • High clarity
  • Affected by fats and solvents

Common uses:

PS is a versatile plastic that can be rigid or foamed. Common uses of rigid PS include yoghurt containers, fast food trays, disposable cutlery, video cases, vending cups, laboratory ware, seed trays, coat hangers, and low-cost brittle toys.


Photographs

PS scrap (bagged)

PS trays

7 Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

General properties:

  • Foamed
  • Lightweight
  • Stiff
  • Excellent thermal insulation
  • Impact absorbing
  • Affected by fats and solvents

Common uses:

Common uses of foamed PS (EPS) include egg boxes, food trays, hot drink cups, protective packaging for fragile items, and insulation.


Photographs

EPS (compacted

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