Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Even today plastic is one of the most widespread materials in our everyday life. If we look around, we can find it everywhere: in packagings of food products, in water bottles that we find in our office, in cars, in our houses and also in the tissues of our clothes.
It is an extremely versatile material for a wide range of applications. In fact it has some characteristics which make it very convenient compared to other materials:
Easy processing: plastic is ductile and malleable, it can be shaped in different forms;
The low density provides lightweight to plastic, making extremely practical and easy to transport;
Thermal, electric, acoustic and mechanical insulation
Resistance to corrosion: plastic lasts over time and resists to weather conditions;
Waterproof (liquids and gasses)
How is plastic produced?
Plastic is not a material which can be found in nature. It is artificial, it is produced in laboratory starting from organic materials like cellulose, carbon and crude oil.
The term plastic is generic and in a certain way it’s wrong because “plastic” does not exists, but rather “plastic materials”. There are in fact about fifty different types of plastic materials that differ from one another by technical characteristics, resistance and refinement and probably others will be added in future.
The production process of plastic materials occurs in different steps. Before being used, the crude oil is submitted to a refining process. Through a process called “cracking” the hydrocarbon molecules are broken, creating the monomers from which plastics are synthesised.
The following chemical reaction is the “polymerisation” in which thousands of monomers combine together creating long chains of polymers. In this way the resin is formed, a soft paste to which dyes and other substances are added to give the material the desired characteristics. After that this paste is transformed in pellets and powders that are sold to companies that produce objects obtained by plastic. In industrial specialised machinery, this pellets are subjected to high heat and pressure to be shaped in different forms. When they have cooled, their final form is reached and they are finally ready to be used.
Why is it important to do the waste sorting?
Once they have completed their life cycle, the consumer have to correctly discard plastic by throwing it in the apposite container of recycling waste sorting. In fact plastic is not biodegradable but it is recyclable. It's not a material which is itself polluting like lots of people think. It’s man who pollutes and destroys the environment abandoning plastic waste on the beaches, in the forests and throwing bags and bottles in the sea. Since it is a very durable material, if it’s left in nature it takes around a hundred years to decompose. For this reason it's fundamental to do the waste sorting to transform our waste in new precious resources.
"The garbage is a great resource in the wrong place that lacks the imagination of someone to be recycled for the benefit of all.” - Mark Victor Hansen
What is produced with recycled plastic?
Let’s see together what objects are produced from recycled plastic:
Scooter components and padding of seats, car coatings and mats: all scooter parts are mostly realised by mixed heterogeneous plastics coming from the selection made by the separate collection of waste from plastic packaging. Seats paddings are realised with wadding obtained by recycled PET.
Design objects like lamps, chairs and armchairs: flakes of recycled PET can be also printed to produce artefacts with design characteristics besides the remarkable performance and the possibility to obtain a wide range of colours. Chairs and armchairs can be realised with the 60% of recycled PET, or using recycled PP for the production of elements (backrest, armrests and rigid parts). The padding can be made from polyester obtained by recycled PET. The polyester yarn obtained by recycled PET allows also the production wires and tissued for the furniture that have excellent fireproof and anti-smoking characteristics that makes them particularly suitable to the realisation of tissues for the furnishing.
Frame glasses can be produced from the recovery of PET bottles or re-using the scarps of old glasses.
Urban and garden furniture like benches, loungers, outdoors umbrella
Irrigation systems: with the recycled plastic derived from the covering of PVC electrical cables can be obtained tubes used for fixed or underground systems of irrigation of gardens and greenhouses.
Clothing and pile tissues: today the modern technologies of recycling allow the transformation of the common PET mineral water bottles in polyester fibers; also the paddings of winter jackets, puffers or gilet can be produced from the recycled polyester.
Broomsticks and articles for the home hygiene
Buckets and flowers pots
Reusable shoppers for grocery shopping
Trolleys and shopping shopping carts
The following video of COREPLA (Consorzio Nazionale per la Raccolta, il Riciclaggio e il Recupero degli imballaggi in Plastica) shows the different passages of the realisation of new objects from the recycled plastics.
Us from Soluzioni Plastiche offer a servire that is for the benefict of everybody, allowing the re-use of plastical materials that can still have other "lives".
Plastic is too precious to became waste.
Read also our previous articles: "Plastics and construction" e "Recycled plastic and fashion, a possible match".