Frequent question: Is mechanical or chemical recycling better?

Why is chemical recycling better?

Chemical recycling helps us overcome the limits of traditional recycling. It also helps manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of how, and where, recycled plastics can be used.

Is chemical recycling cost effective?

Chemical recycling is however more expensive than traditional recycling methods. Another concern for chemical recycling is the fact that it requires more energy and does not save as much CO2 as the more eco-friendly mechanical recycling techniques. Technology alone will not fix the recycling problem.

Is chemical recycling bad for the environment?

The results suggest that chemical recycling via pyrolysis has a 50% lower climate change impact and life cycle energy use than the energy recovery option. The climate change impact and energy use of pyrolysis and mechanical recycling of MPW are similar if the quality of the recyclate is taken into account.

What is mechanical recycling?

Mechanical recycling refers to operations that aim to recover plastics waste via mechanical processes (i.e. grinding, washing, separating, drying, re-granulating and compounding).

What are the benefits of mechanical recycling?

Firstly, fewer new (fossil) raw materials are needed. In addition, it offers a solution for the large amounts of waste. Recycling waste streams also produces less CO2 emissions than producing new raw materials.

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Why is chemical recycling better than mechanical recycling?

Chemical recycling is the solution to plastic waste that is hard (expensive) to recycle mechanically. Mechanical recycling is less energy intensive than chemical recycling. Chemical recycling needs more energy and produces more CO2 emissions. Mechanical recycling shreds plastic waste and doesn’t’ use toxic chemicals.

Is chemical recycling of plastics the future?

Chemical recycling can safely provide a viable answer to the recycling of organic waste. Each of the various processes under discussion in this report is capable of reducing organic waste to its original petrochemical level, from which all plastics can be further produced.

How does mechanical recycling work?

In mechanical recycling, plastic waste (sorted by material type) is milled and washed, passes a flotation separation, and is dried. The plastic flakes are then either used directly to produce new plastic materials or they are processed into granulates beforehand.

Is chemical recycling the only solution?

Plasma gasification of plastics could soon be fully commercialized. Economic feasibility of chemical recycling is still challenging to asses. Chemical recycling is only a part of solution for plastic recovery.

How much plastic is chemically recycled?

From plastic waste to virgin-grade products

Globally, around 250 million metric tons of plastic waste are generated each year. Only around 20 percent of this plastic is recycled, thus keeping the material in circulation.