What happens to the plastic we put into recycle bins?

We often forget about our plastic rubbish once we place them into recycle bins. However, are you aware of the massive process required to turn it into something new?

There’s usually one company (Company A) that collects and sorts the things we place in our household recycle bins. Ideally, they’re sorted specifically into the various types of plastic (categorised 1-7) and if possible by colour.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.jpeg
Recycle bins

The sorted plastic are packaged into bails like the picture below. Then, there’s another company (Company B) that buys these bails.

Image result for plastic bales
Sorted recycled plastic bails

Company B may process it into flakes and/or beads as show below. These become the feedstock that are put into machines that melt it and then make other products.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Flakes-to-Beads.png
Plastic flakes and pellets that are the raw stock for making plastic products.

However up until recently, lots of these bails in Australia were sold to another company (Company C) and exported to Asian countries to be processed.

Since many of these countries are no longer taking our plastic rubbish, the bails have lost a lot of value in the after market because there isn’t enough demand from Australian manufacturers. Without this demand, the sorted plastic could end up in the landfills.

This is exactly why we started The Refoundry. Australians can put 100% of their plastic into recycle bins and it can be sorted and process. However, if there is no demand for that feedstock, it could very well still end up in the tips.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: