Do You Know Plastic Recycling’s Silver Bullet?

Banning plastics is all the rage right now. We have figured out that the vast majority of plastics we thought were being recycled actually aren’t. So we think the solution is to get rid of plastics entirely. But that is neither viable nor practical. So what do we do? We look for plastic recycling’s silver bullet. Find it and we solve the plastic problem.

Guess what? The silver bullet is right in front of our faces. We don’t have to dig around to find it. It is not a hidden treasure buried beneath the sand on some remote, uninhabited Caribbean island. Are you ready for it? Here it is – sorting. That’s it. It is just that simple.

Though proper sorting may seem like an overly simplistic solution to an allegedly complex problem, the truth is that we have made consumer recycling far more complicated than it has to be. The proof is in the pudding. Curbside recycling has been a catastrophic failure from the start. On the other hand, industrial plastic recycling has been a financial and manufacturing success.

Sell Your Scrap Plastic Waste

Do you own a manufacturing company or industrial operation? If not, pretend you do. Your company generates plastic waste through its daily operations. Why not sell that scrap plastic to a recycler like Seraphim Plastics? Based in Tennessee and operating in seven states, Seraphim Plastics buys and recycles a long list of industrial scrap plastic.

Here are just some of the items they buy:

  • Plastic pallets
  • Collapsible plastic totes
  • Plastic purge (from injection molding)
  • Scrap plastic cutoff
  • Plastic pipes and tubes
  • Plastic buckets
  • Plastic dunnage trays
  • Baled plastic bottles (PET).

Seraphim picks up scrap plastic scrap, ships it back to its own facility, and runs it through a series of grinders to reduce it to a product known as regrind. There is very little manual labor required for the simple fact that the scrap doesn’t have to be sorted. That is handled by customers before pickup.

Keeping Costs in Check

The key to successful plastic recycling is producing a recycled material that manufacturers want to buy. In order to do that, you have to keep costs in check. Manufacturers are not going to buy recycled plastic if virgin plastic is cheaper. Why would they? It doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately, cleaning and sorting are the two biggest cost barriers to consumer recycling. Both municipal recycling programs and private-sector operators have to invest in costly manual labor to sort and clean curbside recyclable plastics. As a result, they cannot produce recycled material that’s cheaper than virgin plastic.

Customer Sorting Makes It Work

Customer sorting is what makes industrial plastic recycling work. We could recycle a significant portion of consumer plastics if we applied the same process. Consumers would clean and sort plastics at home. They would keep them separated, collecting different types of plastics until they had enough volume to warrant pickup. A recycler would go through a neighborhood and take all the plastics – just like Seraphim does.

From there, the pieces would be put through grinders before being packaged for sale to manufacturers. The recycler keeps costs down by not having to clean and sort. Plastics go from truck to grinder right away.

Sorting is the silver bullet that makes plastic recycling work. We can do it at the industrial level, so we should be able to do it at the consumer level, too. But that would require a concerted effort among consumers, manufacturers, and a variety of players at the retail level. Without that effort, nothing at all will change.

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