End Markets for Recycled Household Plastic Film

12th December 2016

This research focused on the identification of end market applications for post-consumer polyethylene film packaging derived from UK kerbside co-mingled collection in delivery bags, silage sheeting, storage and transport crates, store mannequins and automotive parts.

Key points
This project has demonstrated it is technically feasible to incorporate PCR derived from postconsumer film into a variety of products made using a number of manufacturing techniques
There has been an overall positive reception from moulding companies and there is on the whole a willingness from the industry to increase (or start) the usage of recycled material

Overview

Overview

Evidence shows there is a demand for the end product and if post-consumer film can be recycled in the UK there could be significant benefits.  Not only would a high volume waste stream be diverted from landfill but also virgin polymer could be substituted by recycled material, leading to environmental and economic benefits for the whole supply chain.

Manufacturers, retailers, brands, local authorities, recyclers and reprocessors would find this research of particular interest.

Background

In order to establish the collection and reprocessing of post-consumer polyethylene film in the UK, additional end markets for the recycled material need to be identified.  Five manufacturing trials were carried out to demonstrate the potential uses and end market applications for the material:

  • Manufacture of blown film dispatch bags and silage sheeting;
  • Production of injection moulded plaques made from blends of recycled material and virgin polypropylene (PP), using novel foaming technology;
  • Manufacture of various rotational moulded items, including automotive parts;
  • Manufacture of injection moulded nestable storage/transport boxes;
  • Manufacture of conventional foamed injection moulded parts.

The project shows that virgin polymer can be replaced with post-consumer film to produce functional products such as dispatch bags with only a slight reduction in print quality.  If this is determined to be acceptable as there is no negative effect on the functionality, then it could open up a large market for the recycled material.

Perception issues also need to be addressed; buyers, marketeers and consumers need to be informed that the functional specification of these products can still be met with the inclusion of recycled plastics.

The opportunities for potential cost savings and support Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives within companies are significant.

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