Recycled Plastics : Hybrid Approach
in this article, Amir focuses on blending virgin plastics with recycled components as hybrid approach to adapt to low demand for recycled plastics.
Waste Plastics pose pollution threat to landscape with only 9% recycled globally and the rest being openly dumped or land filled. Basically, plastic recycling is reprocessing postconsumer plastic waste into useable plastic products. The process is based on sorting, washing, size reduction, and extruding into resin granules. However, it is more complex than metal recycling because of many different types of plastics, thus sorting -automatic or manual- and purification require several steps that consume additional energy. On the other hand, plastic pyrolysis is considered for polyethylenes (LDPE/HDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS) upon feasible heat utilization.
Unfortunately, recycling rate is directly related to the price of virgin resins for that type of plastic, which is related to the volatile price of crude oil, thus low oil prices result in low costs for the virgin resins. Consequently, recycled resins are expensive to be used by comparison to virgin resins and the recycling rates fluctuates upon crude oilprice volatility besides mechanical and thermal degradation of the recycled resins affecting service life properties.
Presently, recycled high density polyethylene (R-HDPE) and low density polyethylene (R-LDPE) are gradually trending in the asian market upon post-pandemic container shortages and further due to implementing the dual control policy in china. In contrast, the recent european energy crisis have lead to price surge causing low demand despite the environmental policies that promotes for plastic recycling.
In the middle east, saudi basic industries corportaion (SABIC) is taking hybrid approach through producing virgin polyethylens terephthalate resins (PET) blended with 10 % recycled resins (R-PET) regarding the preferable demand for virgin plastic packaging in the regional fast-moving consumer goods sector (FMCG) despite increasing saudi govermental pressure to reduce the generated solid municipal waste that is reaching 15 million metric tonne per year with estimated 12 % waste plastics.
Despite the marketing hype for recycled plastics in the middle east, the low regional demand for recycled polyethylene terephthalate resins (R-PET) changed the marketing perspective for saudi basic industries corportaion (SABIC) to reach for european players in the packaging industry. Conversely, the european petrochemical (Ineos) is adopting the hybrid approach by producing virgin polypropylene (PP) blends with recycled content (R-PP).
plastic pyrolysis : thermal cracking of waste plastics into fuels and chemical feedstock
recycling rate : amount of any type of plastic that is recycled in a period of time
Ineos Group is multinational chemicals company headquartered and registered in united kingdom