Secondary raw materials as the basis for quality new products
Our basic idea – and primary aim – is to convert plastic waste back into the products it once was. We recycle around 28 000 tonnes of polyethylene waste every year, transforming it into high-quality recyclates. Recyclates are recycled plastics from post-consumer waste – plastics that have been disposed of with household or commercial waste at least once after being used. Secondary raw materials, or recyclates, are produced in a multi-stage production process. Recyclates are produced using hot or cold washing, while granules are produced without the washing stage.
In most cases our recyclates can be used to manufacture products the same as or similar to the original products prior to disposal, completing the recycling loop.
How much plastic is manufactured today?
Worldwide, about 120 million tonnes of plastics are manufactured every year. In Austria over 1 million tonnes of plastics are used annually, of which more than 220.000 tonnes is packaging.
One cubic metre of plastic – a plastic cube whose edges all measure 1 metre – weighs about 1 tonne. So global annual plastic production amounts to 120 million of these cubes. If they were placed end to end, they would go around the earth three times.
What are plastics made of?
Plastics, also known as polymers, from the Greek polus (many) and meros (part), are high-molecular organic compounds. Organic compounds are substances that consist mainly of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.
Plastics are manufactured either by converting high-molecular natural materials (wood, rubber or cellulose) or by chemically combining low-molecular basic components known as monomers (from the Greek mono (one)) through a series of chemical reactions. A distinction is made between converted natural materials (such as cellulose ester) and synthetic plastics (such as polyethylene and polypropylene). Synthetic plastics are more common and come in more forms. This is because of the many different possibilities in the selection of the monomer components (e.g. ethylene or propylene) and the different ways in which they can be combined to form high-molecular chains.
Additives such as pigments, stabilisers (e.g. to provide UV protection), plasticisers and reinforcers are used to give the plastics different characteristics depending on how they will be used.
Source: Peter Eyerer, Einführung in Polymer Engineering