CMYK           COVER STORYP       lastics as commonly understood are       either thermoplastic polymers or               ...
CMYK                                                            Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl       l    Roads and...
CMYKat the level of the waste collection centre.            the pellets or chips to be                                    ...
CMYK                                                                        l   Drying                     streamlined and...
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Recover-Recycle-Reuse:Focus on the Plastics Waste Recycling Industry-Cover Story -ET Polymers


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Effective Plastics Waste Management and Recycling options.

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Recover-Recycle-Reuse:Focus on the Plastics Waste Recycling Industry-Cover Story -ET Polymers

  1. 1. CMYK COVER STORYP lastics as commonly understood are either thermoplastic polymers or The mechanisation of systems right thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastic from sorting to extrusion of pelletspolymers soften on increase in temperatureand therefore become maleable and can be not only adds to profitability,re-melted, moulded or extruded without but also covers environmentaltheir properties being modified too much.Thermosetting polymers on the other hand problem at various stages of Vijay Boolaniremain hard when heated and cannot bere-melted and therefore cannot be recycled collection, sorting, washing, drying, President, Boolanigroup, Mumbaimechanically. Thermoplastic polymers are by grinding etc. as majority of thefar the most widely used polymers and there are100 types with approximately 15 of them being waste can carry diseases throughused for common applications. Out of these 5 micro-organisms as well as otherthermoplastic polymers have over 75% of shareof all polymers in the global market which is contaminated materials found inat a current consumption level of 250 milliontonnes per year. The polymers are Polyethylene, municipal wastes. • THE ECONOMIC TIMES POLYMERS DECEMBER, 2010 - JANUARY, 2011 5
  2. 2. CMYK Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl l Roads and from public places (very chloride and PET. Besides this, there fouled). are engineering plastics such as l Waste collection centres (very fouled) which ABS, PC, Polyamides, PUR etc. which are normally micro or small businesses who constitute approximately 15% of carry out brief sorting of said wastes. the total consumption of polymers l Municipal dumping grounds (very and have not been considered at fouled). this point as they are used for high end life applications like automotive, The challenges are waste management electronics, hardware and appliance or collection depending on geographical as well as white goods industry. dispersion, the contamination level and Mixed BM waste. The use of plastics in India, over the hetrogenity of such wastes. The industrial, past 6 decades, has increased gradually and commercial and agricultural wastes are easy more rapidly in the last decade to a current to manage having the following advantages: consumption of 8.5 million tonnes per annum, l Wastes are already identified. with a compounded annual growth of 15%. As a l Regulated supply. thumb rule, generally the generation of plastics waste is divided into 4 broad categories: l Clean and unmixed waste. l Industrial Waste: It is generally generated l Identified collection locations / sites. by plastic processing companies during l Easy sorting. process of extrusion, injection and blow moulding vide purges, runners, lumps and Challenges to Collection of Municipal Waste parts with defects. As regards plastic in municipal waste sourced l Commercial Waste: It is mainly generated from landfills, what is needed is: Thermosetting in shops and workshops. Being a post l A process / method for reducing degree consumer waste from establishments like polymers on the other of fouling which, at times can reach upto hotels, restaurants, petrol stations, airports, 25%. This means that for every 100 kg of hand remain hard community halls, railway platforms, schools recovered plastic, there is 25 kg of filth and when heated and and colleges, clubs and playgrounds, tourist only 75 kg can be sorted. spots, hospitals, pharmacies, garages, hair cannot be dressers etc. It is a slightly fouled mixed l Sorting and segregating of wastes of re-melted and different types of polymers i.e. PP, PE, PVC, waste. Besides this, there is certain amount PET, PS etc. therefore cannot of waste generated during events such as local festivals, side walk sales and events l Reduce transportation cost to landfill area be recycled where the fouled plastics waste are well- and waste material back to recycling unit. mechanically. identified. l An atmosphere for operations at landfill l Agricultural Waste: This consists of sites to minimise adverse health conditions irrigation pipes, stakes, tarpaulins (for due to unhygienic environment. constructions), jerry cans, woven sacks, Currently, the scenario for collection plastic films (for packaging) etc. used in of municipal waste is that it is mainly farming and forestry activities generated unsegregated with organic and inorganic from post agricultural operations. waste. There is a need to have a structured l Municipal Waste: This is mostly generated collection system and this could be organised from households and deposit is directly by selecting a few neighbourhoods in the area linked to consumption and various habit of commercial waste by motivating people to patterns of the target population which is separate plastic and another wastes. Once this related to their purchasing power. Plastic is achieved, the next challenge would be to contents may range from 0.5 kg to 1 kg determine the characteristics of segregated per day in terms of plastic based on data plastics waste around the 5 major categories – that the plastic content in the municipal PP, PE, PS, PVC and PET and this could be done solid waste represent between 3 - 8% by weight. Municipal wastes are usually heterogeneous, dispersed and heavily fouled and consists primarily of packaging films, thermoform packaging, bags, bottles, milk pouches etc. The supply is regular and one can recover plastic municipal waste from: Landfill collection. l Consumer (less fouled). PET recycle plant. 6 • THE ECONOMIC TIMES POLYMERS DECEMBER, 2010 - JANUARY, 2011
  3. 3. CMYKat the level of the waste collection centre. the pellets or chips to be introduced into various As no ideal collection system exists, each extrusion, injection andzone or area needs to be studied to respond to blow moulding machinesthe quantum of such waste being generated. for shaping into variousFurther, such an apparatus or equipment end products.should be available which downsizes theplastics waste, which in case of packaging l Washingmaterial are normally voluminous though light Having highlighted thein weight and tend to occupy larger area in collection and sortingtheir original form. Migrant workers sort the PET bottle waste. (sorting which includes emptying, decaping and delevellingRecycling of Plastics Waste containers and packages etc.), the nextThe recycling of plastics waste offers a huge important thing is washing and defoulingbusiness opportunity with economic benefits before pre-cutting / grinding the waste.besides addressing concerns of environment Washing techniques normally used are byand saving of petrochemical resources and hand in buckets or containers of warm orenergy. Once the waste is available, sorted cold water depending on the level and typeout and in compact form, the recycling of such of contamination of waste and with the useplastics waste can be made very profitable and of industrial detergents to facilitate the to extrude and pelletise such waste Washing can also be done after grindingcould be set up by local authority and / or or downsizing the plastics waste. Howeverpublic - private partnerships. Steps include: this practice has to be with a degree ofl Collection mechanisation as it involves using very hot water and powerful cleansing agents such The trend in India, in a metro city, as an as sodium or potatium hydroxide. Here the example, has a dual collection system where operators are in direct contact with the approximately 5000 collection agents materials and hence are unable to comply collect plastics waste by door to door with the safety rules. Dumping ground. collection method. Each collection agent collects an average of 15 kgs of plastics waste per day and based on 25 days a month, collects approximately 375 kgs/month. This source of collection obtains quality plastics waste with minimum fouling and a higher market value. On the other hand, 5 times the number of people sort out plastic at various dumping sites and on an average extract 15% of recoverable material, out of which 5% is waste plastic. On an average, each sorter recovers 10 kgs of plastic per day and works 20 days a month, thereby recovering 200 kgs of most fouled plastics waste to be resold at approximately half the price than those collected at the source. The other factor is that transporting waste plastic is most expensive given their low densities (0.9 to 1.4) and average density MEGAPLASTIC ASIA in bulk rarely exceeding 400 kg/m3. This may be addressed by setting up a recycling facility possibly near about to such areas and also organising pick-up smartly with a use of cheap transport adapted to local environment e.g. using hand cart, tricycle with pedal, small motor vehicle, pick-up vans depending on the volume as well as distance to transport the same. The physical preparation of plastics waste to convert the same into small, clean and dry pellets or chips of acceptable size through use of extrusion lines and allow • THE ECONOMIC TIMES POLYMERS DECEMBER, 2010 - JANUARY, 2011 7
  4. 4. CMYK l Drying streamlined and sources set-up through direct A crucial step after washing, supply of waste plastic material received from but prior to recycling is the collectors / rag pickers. The mechanisation that the material has to of systems right from sorting to extrusion of be reasonably dried to a pellets not only adds to profitability, but also lower moisture content, covers environmental problem at various preferably less than 0.1% stages of collection, sorting, washing, drying, to make it receiptable to grinding etc. as majority of the waste can extrusion process. Drying carry diseases through micro-organisms as is carried out by various well as other contaminated materials found in methods such as drying municipal wastes. Twin screw extruder. in the sun or ventilated Further, the plastic materials have various rooms with artificial ventilation such as chemicals present and working on them use of a fan or hot air drying with heat through light, heat or mechanical processing guns, electrical dryers etc. The drying of can degrade and decompose the respective flakes is easily mechanised by using a spin monomers as well as many pigments and dryer which can take up waste plastic flakes colouring materials containing heavy metals between 4 and 10 mm having moisture which form the basis for their pigmentation, content of about 5% and after a run of 5 could be very toxic to human beings. The minutes reduce moisture content to 0.5%. general aspects of work safety have to be After the above process, the granulated observed. material / flakes are force fed in an extrusion line (using single or twin screw extruder Conclusion depending on the polymers to be used and In order to retain the growth of use of plastics extrusion lines from 10 kg/hour to over 1000 in wider applications including the packaging kg/hour production can be made available). sector and without affecting the environmental Currently, the Plastic material exits through calibrated die balance, this industry sector has to be properly scenario for collection with circular holes to obtain strands of desired organised and effectively be managed by the of municipal waste diameters which are in line immersed in a water industry and government getting together tank to cool the strands, before being fed into to organise user friendly collection systems is that it is mainly pelletising unit which cuts the strands into and putting in joint efforts for prompting unsegregated with small lengths of 3 to 4 mm. The other system technology based recycling industry to achieve organic and inorganic would be to directly cut hot strands with a die the following objectives: face cutter at the die outlet by using air or water To reduce resource consumption waste. l cooling arrangement. The pelletised granules (petroleum oil) and power required to are then collected and packed in PP industrial produce virgin material. sacks of 25 kg volume or in jumbo bags of l Maximise resource for reuse and increase 500-1000 kg depending on the customer the percentage of waste recycling which requirement. will benefit Indian economy and maintain price stability of material and thus reduce Reuse of Plastics Waste inflation. In the Indian context, recycling of plastics waste l To realise better value of waste plastic is an economically profitable activity. As against material, it is desired to create waste the world average of plastics waste recycled collection systems of such items which at 20%, the Indian plastics waste recycling are identifiable and generated in large industry is highest at 60%. The cheap labour quantities everyday, which will prevent the cost, specifically in the area of operations of material from being dumped into garbage collections, sorting, washing, drying, grinding, bins and finally to municipal garbage extrusion and use thereafter are done mainly sites. with manual labour. However, for the future growth in this area, it is advisable to l The recovery of plastics waste from garbage go for mechanised operations sites / landfills pose health hazards, is for all of the above, except uneconomical, difficult to get quality collection and with a higher product for reuse. production to achieve a viable scale l Setup plants for process technology for as well as quality of end product and recycling of post consumer plastic (PP, PE, thereby to achieve higher profitability. PVC, PET, PS and other), mixed plastic and Secondly, the cost of procurement of plastics waste segregated from end-of-life plastics waste; either unsoiled, slightly products such as automotive, electronic Single screw extruder. soiled or highly soiled should be and white goods. 8 • THE ECONOMIC TIMES POLYMERS DECEMBER, 2010 - JANUARY, 2011