A7.4 Plastic Recycling
Recycling plastics requires much more processing than the recycling of other materials. Actually very few plastics are strictly “recycled” but the materials recovered are re-used for lower grade applications.
Before recycling, plastics are sorted according to their resin type. In the past, the RIC system enabled recycling organisations to categorise the different types of plastic and process them accordingly. Today, they mostly use automatic sorting systems to identify the resin using near infrared (NIR) technology.
Once sorted, the plastic recyclables are shredded, the fragments are melted and formed into pellets which are then used to manufacture other products.
Each type of plastic requires a different process and overall the recycling of polymers is an energy-intensive process.

Key information
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Table of resin identification codes (RIC CODES)
Image
Abbreviation
Polymer name
PETE or PET
Polyethene terephthalate
HDPE
High density Polyethene
PVC or V
Polyvinylchloride (polychloroethene)
LDPE
Low density polyethene
PP
Polypropene
PS
Polystyrene
OTHER
Other plastics, such as acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate
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