Getting to know your plastics
In your day to day life you are surrounded by various types of plastics. Every room in your home will have different types of plastics, be they disposable or reusable. On the surface they would appear to be more or less the same in structure, only differentiated by colour and scale, however this is not the case. Plastic is one of the most complex materials in everyday use, which is why the new recycling measures are difficult to implement. As Europe begins to tackle its plastic problem, ReGen Waste explores the different plastic types and their uses.
How many types of plastic are there?
Believe it or not there are literally thousands of different types of plastic, but when you consider the different uses it seems obvious. At home, plastic is used to store food, it’s stretched across your screens and separates you from hazardous wires. Some plastics are made to resist heat, some melt and can be recast while others are made for strength and durability. The two most common divisions of plastic are thermosetting and thermoplastics, however others do exist.
These plastics are heated once, then they set into their mould not to be reformed. Often they are combined with other materials and adopt a set shape once used. Your bathroom will more than likely have acrylics, because they are waterproof, they are ideal for sealant to prevent leaks and fill gaps.
Unlike set plastics, these can be reheated and given a whole new shape. Polythene and nylon are two of the most common plastics and can be found in plastic bags and clothing. Recently, governments have tried to halt the overuse of polythene by adding a levy to plastic bags.
Which plastics can be recycled?
Plastics such as polythene can be recycled, and at ReGen they are automatically sorted by some the smartest recycling machinery in Europe. Unlike paper which diminishes in strength each time it is recycled, plastics maintain their fibres and separate less often. So diverse is the material, that this week Manchester United announced their new kit would be made from recycled plastic from the oceans!
Foam packaging, bottle caps and containers can all be recycled and in some instances they return as their former selves. Earlier this year, Evian decided that it will make all of their bottles from…..recycled plastic bottles. Technological advances have made this shift a possibility and as the plastic problem is brought to the fore, expect to see more brands following suit.
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Throughout 2018, tackling plastic waste has been a key environmental issue for national and supra-national governments. If you want to learn more about the topic follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page. We will continue to bring you the latest in the fight against plastic waste, plus we’ll keep you informed on how you can make small changes to your lifestyle that could make all the difference.