Tuesday, 23rd march 2021 | Technical information
Marco Arezio - Consulente materie plastiche - Why are some Recycled Polymers Preferred to Virgin Ones?

It is no longer a taboo now that some high-quality recycled polymers can be more sought after than virgin ones, that they can cost the same or more than the same ones and that have general qualities quite similar to oil-derived polymers.

Furthermore, the most important thing is that they are the technological evolution of a processing waste, or even from post-consumption in the case of rPET, in full compliance with the principles of the circular economy.

Consumers, companies that manage important brands and politics, now have a clear idea of the road we have to walk on, a painstakingly built (and unfinished) road of sustainable materials, recycling, renewable energy and reduced environmental impact on fumes, waste and liquid or solid process waste.

With this in mind, the world of recycled polymers is building an important reputation, gaining the trust of producers and consumers who strongly want products with the least possible impact on the environment.

There are five families, among the most used products in the world of plastics, which are HDPE, PP, LDPE, PET and PVC which, alone, cover a percentage of articles on the market so important that they leave little space for other types, in terms of quantities produced and used.

Let's take a closer look:

  • Recycled HDPE, in order to compete with virgin materials in the non-food sectors, must have a series of peculiar characteristics such as the absence of pungent odor, the neutrality of the base color, a DSC that certifies the 100% HDPE composition and comparable technical characteristics in the machine. These characteristics lead to the production of articles with surfaces without defects, neutral to the smell of recycling, with homogeneous and bright colors and mechanical characteristics suitable for the use for which the product is intended.
  • Recycled PP has an infinite number of uses and its limitation to massive use was linked, also in this case, to the presence of odors and to the difficulty of having a recipe that included only PP inside . In fact, the fractions of PE incorporated could create aesthetic problems on the products during the molding phase. Today there are recipes that have solved these problems and, starting from a neutral base, therefore without residues of previous dyes, it is possible to obtain excellent colored surfaces of the product. From the mechanical point of view it is possible to obtain good results and, the similarity with the virgin raw material allows their mixing.
  • Recycled LDPE is a widely used product in the extrusion, molding and filming phase but has always been relegated to the creation of non-aesthetic or coarse quality products. With the neutral product from post industrial waste it is possible to make 20 micron transparent or colored films, to make tubes of thin thickness as the material does not have any contamination or solid residues inside which could cause holes in the tube. It is also possible to use it in the molding sector where important aesthetic finishes are required. Among the five products on display, the recycled LDPE granule is the one in which the risk of unpleasant odor is the highest, a problem that does not arise in these post-industrial recipes.
  • The recycled PVC powder has a white base, micronized to increase its quality, has characteristics that are completely comparable to a virgin K67 from a technical and aesthetic point of view. A mixture of post-industrial waste from the window profile sector guarantees production quality in the field of aesthetic profiles and extrusion of pipes.
  • Recycled PET, certified for food, is the only product presented that comes from post-consumer rather than post-industrial origin. The particular mechanical recycling, certified by bodies responsible for authorizing the use of recycled polymer in the food sector, allows it to be used in a field where the demand for recycled polymer is very high, such as that of the soft drinks and mineral water sector. . A perfect synthesis of the circular economy, rPET for food is the polymer that most embodies the spirit of a friendly plastic in which everything that becomes waste is reused for a new product.

Related articles:

Why does recycled plastic have to cost more than virgin plastic?

Automatic translation. We apologize for any inaccuracies. Original article in Italian.

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