As you know, the effect of plastic is a global environmental pollution problem. It is hard to stop plastic pollution due to its durability. It is also difficult to recycle plastic using conventional methods. Only 9% of the plastic that has been made is recycled.
Did you know that it was possible to transform plastic back into the original oil it was made from? Yes, you heard me right. It is known as chemical recycling and allows us to recycle all types of plastic despite its color or composite. The only issue related to this process is the amount of energy required.
So many people find it easier to produce new plastic products instead of recycling the already existing ones. Chemical recycling is all about recycling the unrecyclable. This process transforms plastics back into oil, and then the oil is used to make plastic again.
In the present, plastic is recycled mechanically, in a downward spiral manner. Plastics are sorted out, cleaned up, shredded into pieces, melted, and then remolded. It is a relatively ineffective method because the quality decreases each time plastic is recycled mechanically. The main reason for this is the polymer chains being partially broken down when melted.
This lowers its viscosity and tensile strength, making it difficult to process. But chemical recycling is focused on avoiding this problem by breaking down plastic into its chemical building blocks. They can then be used for fuel as well as to reincarnate new plastics.
Feedstock recycling is a version of chemical recycling where it breaks down polymers into simpler molecules using heat. This process is also known as thermal conversion. Mura Technology in the UK has initiated the construction of the first commercial-scale plant in the world that can recycle all kinds of plastic.
Mura Technology is aiming for a plastic-neutral society, from microplastics in the food chain to landfill leakage. By them moving away from the traditional linear model of creating consume and dispose of, to creating consume and recycle. They convert plastics that are destined for incineration and landfill into valuable products.
This includes colored plastics, mixed plastics, plastics of all composites, and even plastics that are contaminated with food and other waste. They use a type of feedstock recycling called the hydrothermal technique. It uses supercritical water inside the reactor chamber to spread the heat equally all around.
Plastic bales are firstly fed into the front-end sorting facility to remove inorganic contaminants. Then the plastic is shredded and cleaned before mixing in the supercritical water. After the high-pressure system is depressurized, the water leaves the reactors.
Most of the liquid flashes off as vapor. In a distillation column, the vapor is cooled down, and the condensed liquids are separated on a boiling range.
Finally, four hydrocarbon liquids and oils such as naphtha, distillate gas oil, heavy wax residue, and heavy gas oil are produced and shipped to the petrochemical industry. By using this technology, plastics can be recycled infinitely.
By diverting plastic away from polluting the environment, Mura’s technology represents significant overall environmental benefits. Initial objective studies have already shown that advanced recycling could reduce CO2 emissions by around 1.5 tonnes for about every tonne of plastic waste prepared when compared to incineration.
Mura Technology has formed a global partnership with KBR, a leading international provider of science, technology, and engineering solutions, to promote the global development of our innovative plastic recycling process.
The conversion rate of 99% allows almost all plastics to transform into valuable products. Isn’t this such an effective way to deal with plastic waste?
Some plastics cannot be reused, as the difference in the recyclability of plastic types can be down to how they are manufactured. The thermoset plastics contain polymers that form unchangeable chemical bonds and cannot be recycled, whereas thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded.
For more uplifting stories on how people have utilized plastics to make make some amazing products out of plastic waste:
A Man In Cameroon Uses Waste Plastic Bottles To Build Canoes For Fishermen In Need.
Kenyan Turns Waste Plastic Into Bricks That’s 5X Stronger Than Concrete.
A New Kind Of Asphalt Road Made Out Of Plastic Bottles And Can Last 10 Times Longer