Plastic waste recovery

Valorización de residuos

The recovery stage comes at the end of the chain, when the product becomes waste. There is still much work to be done on product design to improve recovery. It is necessary to create recyclable, compostable materials and designs made of substances that are as harmless as possible in order to make recovery easier. And all this must be done without overlooking optimization of the product itself and the concept of reuse. There is still a pressing need to raise awareness on the importance of waste recovery from the social perspective of recovery by businesses and research and development.

AIMPLAS offers companies the technological support they need to implement projects to recover different kinds of waste.

Waste = resources

Plastics are currently the most commonly used materials for an endless number of products across all industries and this trend shows every sign of continuing. After use, plastic products become waste that must be managed properly. According to current legislation, management priorities include:

  • Prevention (reduction or minimization)
  • Preparation for reuse
  • Material recycling
  • Energy recycling
  • Elimination (including landfilling)

Waste is often considered a problem with associated management costs, but it is now time to change preconceived notions about plastic waste and embrace the opportunity of understanding that plastic waste is a resource.

Residuos plásticos = Residuos
EStudio de los residuos

Studying waste

There are many different kinds of plastic materials, which means there are many kinds of waste, especially because plastic can become dirty, degraded and mixed with other plastics and other materials. In order to get the most out of waste and find the best solution in each case, waste must be studied, which necessarily involves prior knowledge of plastic materials, processes and waste, as well as having access to the right equipment in each case.

It is the only way to make precise, realistic calculations on waste recovery.

Stages in the study of waste recovery:

  • Analysis of the initial situation
  • Waste characterization
  • Study of recovery possibilities

Analysis of the initial situation

The purpose of this stage is to study the origin of the waste by analysing the process used to generate the plastic, the total amount produced and its shelf life, among other factors.

This analysis provides initial clues that help define subsequent waste characterization and rule out certain recovery possibilities for environmental, technical or economic reasons.

Plastic waste characterization

In this stage, specific questions are answered about the waste, such as its qualitative and quantitative composition, level of degradation, physical and mechanical properties and calorific value.

Characterization of plastic waste is always a difficult process because, among other features, waste may not be homogeneous, but made up of a wide variety of materials.

If waste is not homogeneous, suitable samples must be taken to obtain an aliquot that is representative of all the waste. The results can then be extrapolated to the whole.

Besides careful sampling, different analysis techniques must be used to obtain reliable results, given the many different materials involved.

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Study of recovery possibilities

Based on the results of the previous stages, the different options for recovering waste should be studied and the best one chosen.

There are different recovery processes, so each case must be studied technically, economically and environmentally to find the best option.

Other lines of research