Other Methods of Recycling and Waste Disposal Options

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In Chapter 1, chemical recycling and energy recovery were introduced as alternatives to mechanical recycling. We have seen how plastics can be reprocessed if they are pure streams, if they can be sorted, or if suitable blends can be obtained. We have also seen potential applications for mixed plastics where the quality of the final product is reduced, but the inherent properties of all plastics such as rot-resistance can be utilised. An example of this is in wood replacement applications. However, material that is highly contaminated and mixed may be difficult or perhaps even impossible to recycle mechanically. Remember that cleaning and sorting can be difficult, costly and laborious.

Examples of highly mixed and technically challenging wastes can be found in domestic household waste, electrical and electronic waste and end-of-life vehicles when they have been shredded. If it is not practical to sort and mechanically recycle these wastes, what are the alternatives?

Other technologies for the recovery of materials will now be considered, these are listed in Table 8.1 along with the definitions already introduced in Chapter 5 [1]. Chemical recycling technologies, like mechanical recycling, place restrictions on the quality of feedstock that they can handle. Energy recovery is less demanding on the requirements for sorting of individual plastics. These disposal methods offer an alternative to the use of landfill. First, however, we will revisit Chapter 2 and see what methods are available to dispose of thermoset waste.

Table 8.1 Standard names of processes for plastics recycling


Type of Recycling

Primary recycling

Mechanical recycling

Secondary recycling

Mechanical recycling

Tertiary recycling

Chemical recycling (Feedstock recycling)

Quarternary recycling

Incineration (Energy recovery)

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