The new mixtures of plastic need to be separated into different families if the plastic is to be recycled into biodegrabable and non-biodegradable material. The construction of a film sorting machine will lead to savings in CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption.
The recycling of plastic is increasingly complex because there are so many types of plastic and many have different processing requirements. FILMSORT is an EU-funded project that is looking at an efficient and sustainable way of recycling waste plastic bags and film, while also ensuring that they are separated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable types.
“Shopping bags and films used to be made of non-biodegradable polyethylene (PE),” says Sixto Arnaiz of the Spanish research institute GAIKER, who is also the project coordinator for the three-partner consortium. “Now, many of the new bags are in bio-plastics and plastic mixtures that are not recyclable.”
The project’s main objective is to build a film sorting machine that can handle the complicated new mixtures of plastics. “Our idea is to separate plastic types into compatible families,” says Arnaiz. The machine will sort plastic at a rhythm of 200 kilos per hour.
In collaboration with the Spanish plastics recovery company CORDOPLAS and the German RTT-Steinert that constructs equipment for recycling plants, FILMSORT will have made it possible to recycle the waste plastic into good quality pellets that can be transformed into plastic products again.
This should see the use of virgin polyethylene go down by 40%, as well as considerable savings in CO2 emissions, energy, water consumption and recycling costs. The machines will hopefully be sold to the over 250 plants in the EU that treat between 1.6-2 million tonnes of plastic every year.