Materials & Applications

One Person’s Waste Is Another Person’s Thermoplastic

One Person’s Waste Is Another Person’s Thermoplastic

Making effective reuse of waste plastics…

Recycling and reusing waste products has been high on the agenda for people across the world for the past 20 years, with it climbing ever higher up the list in recent years.

Here I explain how one of our partner suppliers WELA Plast is incorporating recycling into its materials, and how design engineers can use it to design greener projects.

If you’ve been through the fruit and vegetable aisle in a supermarket in the past few years, you’ll have probably come across ‘wonky’ produce. These are fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the conventional size or shape requirements of producers. In the past, such produce was often discarded on the basis of being unprofitable, but as awareness of food waste has grown, wonky produce has grown in popularity.

Ugly vegetables, carrot and potato on white. Concept. Flat lay.
The ‘wonky‘ vegetables are chosen because they are either misshapen, have growth cracks or are smaller or larger than average ( AFP/Getty ) Supermarkets should sell.

We can think of wonky produce as symbolic of the shift in society towards a less wasteful, more resourceful economy.

Recycling plastic products…

We’re seeing a similar mentality shift in the materials industry, not least of all for plastics. Plastic products have been widely manufactured and used for the past half a century and most of this plastic is still around today, albeit not in a way that is providing value to people. A team of scientists analysed production data and concluded that 91 per cent of plastics are not recycled. And if you take a swim at the beach, you’ll see evidence of this — plastic litter is everywhere.

However, the recycling of plastic products at the point of use is only part of the solution. During the plastic production process and product manufacturing, waste material is usually produced due to the subtractive manufacturing process that many manufacturers use. Often, this scrap material is not considered to be useful and it becomes waste.

Plastics recycling

As a materials sourcing platform and database, we at Matmatch strive to help design engineers choose the ideal materials for their projects, whether that is based on its impact strength, density or sustainability. So, we’re always keen on highlighting the green credentials of our suppliers. And in tackling plastic waste in manufacturing, WELA-Plast is producing high-quality thermoplastics from the waste of manufacturers.

Transforming waste into a new raw material

WELA Plast uses the production waste and faulty batches from manufacturers, as well as overproduction from plastic-processing companies and commercial waste recycled granulates, to produce a multitude of plastics ideal for extrusion, injection moulding and film applications. These plastics include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density PE (LDPE), polystyrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polypropylene (PP).

Crucially, there is little difference between the properties of these recycled materials and newly created plastics. As such, it’s more environmentally-friendly to use these recycled materials, and as we’ve seen governments around the world introducing new ways of taxing manufacturers for the use and end-of-life management of plastic products, this can lead to lower overall costs.

Where to use recycled plastics?

If, for example, a design engineer is developing a new range of laser printers and is determining the material to use for the roller gears, using a recycled thermoplastic such as an ABS for injection moulding would offer the same application benefits — good natural lubricity, high heat resistance, durability — but in a more resourceful way.

It’s all about sustainability

It’s a seemingly simple step, but it’s one that takes us closer to the circular economy where nothing is wasted, only reprocessed and reused. A bit like buying wonky produce, choosing to source recycled materials is a decision that allows design engineers to get the same net result without the same environmental impact.

37 Comments Add New Comment

  1. What a great idea to recycle the wasted plastic bottles. If we recycled remaining 90 % waste , it will be a great achievement to keep the planet clean and grean and best gift to next generation. Send me more information in details about this process, please. Thanks.

  2. M intrested to know in detail . How it cost . Can we give skill traning to differently able people .what is the cost..

  3. Hi am in Tanzania surrounded with west plastic material am interested to get a mashine for recycling the west. Therefor I need to know how much it cost to get a machine,

  4. Hi, I am interested in this technology. Please send details and guide me how to start it and how much it will cost? What are the requirements for installation area and building, etc. I need everything in detail.

    Regards,

  5. Wonderful idea actually.but how much does it cost?can ordinary people like me who do not have much can avail it?im very interested with it.can i have some more information on this and the cost?thank u very much.

  6. Hi, I would like to know the details of the recycling machines, price. Where are the markets for the recycled products.

  7. Hi everyone, thank you for writing to us. Matmatch is a materials database that connects engineers and materials experts with suppliers.

    In this article, we told a story of our supplier WELA-Plast GmbH and how they create new materials out of used plastic. But they definitely work on a large scale and have a big plant.

    If you are interested in a small-scale solution, unfortunately, there is no “magic machine” that can recycle all plastic on the planet. Yet. But some people are trying to make a difference. For instance, Dave Hakkens started a project where he teaches the public how to build a DIY plastic recycling machine. It’s called Precious plastic. They even have videos of how to assemble your own recycling machine.

    Check it out: preciousplastic.com ☺️

    1. Hi I’msri Lankan, I really interested. And I need more information. I would like to save this planet from the plastic. So that’s better way I think help the planet. Please update me.
      malanstar@gmail.com.
      +94717035522
      This is my contract details.

  8. Hi I am JACOB FRANCIS from Bangalore India from a middle class family can I get to know how much will cost. Is there any assistance that you will provide.

  9. Please send me the details. I am very interested to save our environment and make our beautiful nation aware about opportunity……

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