The use of plastic has been increasing more than ever and is eventually having a serious impact on the environment. With the increased use, the wastelands are also getting filled with a tremendous amount of non-biodegradable waste. Now, in order to combat the problem the most common method is the mechanical recycling option which is used since the 1970s. But the methods to recycle usually vary from place to place depending on the geographical location.
Now the importance and usage of plastics is so much that one cannot fathom a world without one. Although, big companies and organizations have adopted the policy of using paper bags or carrying your own bag, but there still remain many that use plastic.
Lately you will come around the talks about chemical recycling technology that has taken over the internet and other spaces. With this we have an opportunity for infinite recyclability. The chemical recycle technology is being seen as one of the potential ways to combat the problem of recycling the plastic as the old and traditional methods are costly and time-consuming. Chemical recycling is the new plastic recycling technology about which many of us do not know.
Before we delve further into the procedure, let us learn about the basics first. We know that plastic is made up of polymers that are also called long-chain molecules. These polymers are further divided into smaller building blocks called monomers which are of different shapes and sizes. Their bonding also determines the properties of the plastic material i.e. its toughness, quality, melting point and other things.
In chemical recycling technology, the whole process is aimed at changing the chemical composition of the product. With the chemical recycling technology, the aim is to break the plastic into simpler molecular levels. This breaking of the monomers into simpler levels means that it can be recovered into closed-loop recycling. In other words, the plastic can be used to transfer into high-valued chemicals in open-loop recycling.
Now there are other kinds of plastics that are used in polybags or the polythenes that we use in our everyday life. This plastic is made up of a material called polyolefins. The polyolefins do not have weak monomer links like the one we talked about above due to which recycling them chemically becomes harder.
Now a valid discourse might arise from here regarding what is better plastic recycling technology. From the traditional point of view, mechanical recycling is seen as one of the easiest methods to convert plastic into other useful materials.
Chemical recycling technology, on the other hand, is a new recycling technology and a sustainable solution to the problem of increasing plastic problem. It also overcomes the problems of mechanical recycling which includes a wide variety of plastic materials. With the help of chemical recycling technology, all types of plastic including mixed, coloured and multi-layer coloued plastic can be liquefied easily. This process of liquefaction is known as the thermochemical liquefaction process whose by-product is quite similar to that of crude oil.
With this emerging recycling technology, there are different demand and supply curves where cost also comes into play. Naturally, the chemical recycling technology uses different amounts of the different chemicals in its procedure, therefore, the procedure becomes quite expensive for most organizations. Due to it being industrial and expensive, most of the companies leave out on the process and stick to the traditional methods to save cost.
Similarly, the expense issue of this emerging recycling process is also related to the demand and supply for evident reasons. Therefore, in order to maximize their profits, most businesses tend to ignore the procedure, thereby leading to low demand and supply.
But, in the end, we are seeing that through various partnerships across different organizations, this new recycling technology is being embraced at a pace higher than before. Collaboration and innovations are seen together and are a movement towards a vital solution.