Low Cost technology for PET and Mixed Film Laminate Recycling
Plastics waste is recycled in India in an “unorganized” way. Only 60% of the plastics-waste collected and segregated gets recycled back into materials for further processing into consumer products, while the balance 40 % is left unutilized. Post-consumer and Industrial PET/PE/PP laminate waste accounts for a major share of total waste. It poses a deep threat to the environment because of its non biodegradable and highly inert nature. This increases concerns of disposal of post-consumer packaging plastics.
Packaging industries cannot sell their in-house laminate waste because of the restrictions by their customers of the printed laminates landing into the hands of unscrupulous dealers. This waste also causes high cost of incineration and increase in Green House Gas emissions. Disposal of post-consumer and industrial waste laminates is an area of great concern for packaging industries, municipal corporations and several government authorities.
Regulations and legislations are being enforced in two states of India viz. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, while a National Plastics Waste Management Council Task Force has been set up by the, Ministry of Environment of Forests with the association of Department of Petroleum and Chemicals, Ministry of Urban Affairs, Municipal Corporation of Delhi and various groups/associations of plastics manufacturers. There is huge scope for the recycling/management of plastic waste, as an “organized activity” in India.
Recycling of these non biodegradable plastics enables sustainability by eliminating the environmental cost of waste disposal. Effective recycling leads to an overall reduction of waste, cost, and energy consumption effectively reducing Green House Gas emissions and an overall low carbon footprint for the industry. But it is difficult to recycle these mixed laminate waste. Recycling of laminates is difficult due to following barriers:
• Compatibilization of PET, PE & PP.
• Presence of Inks in case of printed laminates which may affect properties of recycled compounds.
• Presence of Aluminum in case of metalized laminates.
• Presence of various adhesives for binding different layers in laminates.
• Difficulty in handling of laminates.
Recycling of Mixed Laminate waste involves the following steps:
• Collection of mixed plastic waste – bags, packaging materials
• Washing and shredding of plastic wastes
• Agglomeration of waste materials
• Conversion into pellets
• Pellets made into a useful new product
Each step in the whole process is specially designed to meet the requirements of the different materials that may be present in the laminates. A complete system for detection and removal of unwanted material from the post-consumer & industrial laminates waste is available in the market.
Speciality Polymers designed by PLUSS are used to upgrade the polymer waste by improving their mechanical properties and provides dimensional stability to the finished products. The polar functionality of these additives facilitate printability, paintability and receptivity to adhesives.
The recycled compounds developed from PET/PE/PP waste laminates offer a unique combination of various mechanical properties. These are injection mouldable compounds with good tensile, flexural and impact properties. Properties of these recycled compounds are comparable with engineering plastics like Impact Co-polymers. These recycled compounds find wide range of high value applications. Applications areas for these recycled compounds are:
1. Outdoor furniture
2. Garden pavers
3. Brush bristles
4. Crate handles
5. Shipping pallets
6. Electrical products
7. Drainage pipe
For effective recycling of plastics, the communities, government and industries have to come together. A detailed intervention plan needs to be put in place for waste management. Capacity building of the communities and Government Personnel is an immediate requirement to sensitize them towards the low energy consumption and versatility of plastics hence its indispensability. A change in the mindset and attitude of the local authorities in segregating and collecting waste is essential. House-holds and Rag pickers have to be incentivized to collect waste and properly dispose it. City municipalities must facilitate stakeholder initiatives and committees with minimum political interests and maximum participation and delegation of responsibilities toward handling and recycling of waste. Industries should be involved to provide the technology and operate the recycling plants