The festive season is a time where people enjoy the presents, decorations and indulgent foods. Sadly Christmas time also means piles of plastic being dumped after the presents have been unwrapped. You might think you don’t really add to the pile but the small bits of plastic on the rolls of wrapping paper, keeping the meat packaged and being riped off your child’s new toy car all add up.
Science Daily reported that each American uses an average of 120 grams of plastic wrapping on gifts, most of which are not recyclable.
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel-of-plastic: a new processing technique will be able to recycle any type of plastic. Researchers at the University of Warwick have calculated a way to deal with 100% of plastics.
The university reported that its researchers have created a unit which uses a technique involving heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose materials, otherwise known as pyrolysis. Researchers have shoveled a wide range of plastics into the “fluidised bed” reactor of the unit, which can be reduced.
The process can reclaim wax, original monomers, terephthalic acid, methylmetacrylate, carbon, tires and char from the plastic. This simple process could mean more effective, cheaper and even profitable recycling methods.
Lead researcher, Jan Baeyens, and her team envision large-scale plants capable of dealing with 10,000 tons of plastic annually. They think the plant could possibly generate up to £5 million ($7.8 million) worth of reclaimed chemicals.
Up until now it has been unheard of to deal with mixed plastics in one process. If the technology works out it would mean a big step forward in recycling and would prove beneficial to landfills and the environment. People will be able to put most of their plastics into their recycling bin instead of sending their plastic waste to clutter up the dumps.
You can watch a video about the process at University of Warwick’s website.