Once plastic wrap is cleaned and uncontaminated it can be recycled effectively into new plastic products, saving a useful resource and diverting waste from landfill.
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Plastic wrap and shrink films have traditionally been difficult to recycle, due to limitations with sorting, cleaning and collecting systems. But new technology enables these materials to be recycled, preventing this resource from being illegally burnt or going to landfill where it persists for many years. Manufacturing plastics from recycled materials also uses 30% of the energy required to make virgin plastic products from fossil fuels, which is a big saving for the environment.
There are a growing number of commercial facilities available to process this material across a variety of industries including agriculture. As a focus for a National Packaging Covenant project, this area is set for recycling growth to prevent the export of large amounts of post consumer plastic to markets such as China.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
- Wet Processing: Plastic wrap can be collected, compressed and bailed on site or transported to a central facility. The film is shredded to make it more manageable, then reground and washed. Water is used to break down paper labels, loosen dirt and remove other forms of contamination. The clean, ground film is then melted and extruded to filter out any remaining impurities. The resulting pellets can then be used in the manufacturing of new plastic products.
- Dry Processing: In this process uncontaminated film is shredded and ground without water and then extruded into pellets.