Packaging is essential to protect the products we buy and keep our food fresh. And plastic is an excellent material for this, because it is light, durable and versatile.
Just think how many different kinds of plastic packaging we use.
But in the UK we throw away over one and a half million tonnes of plastic packaging from households every year.
But it’s not all bad news; the recycling of plastic bottles has increased massively over the last 10 years - and around half of all plastic bottles, from UK households, are now recycled.
But what about the other types of rigid plastic packaging - such as pots, tubs and trays?
Well, only a small amount of this packaging is currently being recycled and most of it still finds its way into landfill.
This new ‘mixed plastics’ recycling facility, in Redcar is about to change that!
It’s the first integrated washing and sorting facility in the UK to recycle these types of plastic into a far more valuable resource.
But before it can do that we need to collect the plastic!
A growing number of Councils collect this packaging. Some sort it as they collect it and others collect it, mixed in with other recyclables, to be sorted later at a materials recovery facility.
The plastics are sortedand crushed to form large cubes or ‘bales’ - ready to go to the new facility.
The new facility is designed to take pots, tubs and trays, of all shapes and colours, and convert them into high quality, clean, plastic flakes.
So what happens next? Well, first we need to remove the bits we don’t want. This rotating cylinder or ‘trommel’ removes the dirt, grit, and glass from the plastic.
Then any plastic bags and wrappers are removed and these are sent for onward recycling, as is any paper and metals, and we are left with just the rigid plastics such as pots, tubs and trays, which is what the plant is designed to process.
These are then shredded into ‘flakes’which are washed and fed into this powerful centrifuge, which washes the flakes further and sorts them into a “light” stream and a “heavy” stream.
Then, optical sorters in this tower sort the flakes further, by plastic type and colour.
This maximizes the value and the range of potential end uses for the plastic!
Finally, the cleaned, sorted plastic flakes are filled into bags and sent to manufacturers ready to make new plastic products.
This new Biffa Polymers mixed plastics facility, built with support from WRAP, on behalf of the Government means that householders can recycle more of the pots, tubs and trays in their bins, divert more waste from landfill, and reduce our carbon emissions - and that’s good for all of us. See examples of IELTS Writing sample answers