While existing materials recycling facilities (MRFs) are designed to handle a variety of recyclables, they have historically emphasized paper at the cost of plastic. Georges says that the yield from the plastics recycling stream can be increased by sending plastic bundles from MRFs to stand-alone PRFs for further processing.
Not only would sending plastics through supplemental processing increase the yield of usable recyclables, it would also cut down on contamination. When processed through MRFs, plastics can be contaminated by other recyclables and resins. Sending plastics through an added PRF would improve the sort of plastics, remove contamination and create a higher quality, more valuable, bale.
It’s not only plastics that can be contaminated, Georges adds. While convenient, single-stream recycling results in different recyclables contaminating different recycling streams. The reduction in quality ultimately limits the revenue for all recycling streams.
The pounds of used bottles collected for recycling in the US has grown for 24 consecutive years. In 2013, plastic bottle recycling grew 120 million pounds, edging up 4.3 percent, to top 2.9 billion pounds for the year.
Photo Credit: plastic bottles via Shutterstock