Thursday, October 22, 2020

How Many Times can Plastic be Recycled?

Most plastics can only be recycled once or twice into a new plastic product before being downcycled.

In plastic recycling, the plastics are usually converted into clothing or other commodities that cannot be recycled again. Most of the time, they are downcycled into the fabric because they are no longer recyclable after one use. 

How Many Times can Plastic be Recycled?
How Many Times can Plastic be Recycled?

How Does Plastic Harm the Environment?

You know that plastic is harmful to the environment. Plastic cutlery is one of the most deadly plastics for birds, sea turtles, and marine animals. Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil. The burning of plastic in the open air pollutes the environment by releasing toxic chemicals.


Many cities, states and some countries have also taken such initiative that restrictions have been imposed on plastic use.

Aquaculture has been threatened by plastic due to Oceanic Waste and you have been aware of the damage caused by plastic from time to time from human health to animals on earth as well.

Many people believe that plastic can be reused again and again, so why is it not environmentally friendly?


Plastic is made of polymers, monomers with interconnected building blocks like structures that form long and repetitive chains of atoms. These monomers that make polymers reusable actually form shorter chains than atoms of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen.

Now what happens is that in the process of production, chemicals like pigments, retardants and antioxidants are added to it so that the plastic can be processed at the desired size, color, and temperature.


How to Recycle Plastics and How Many Times can Plastic be Recycled?

Now understand how plastic is recycled. Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the materials into useful products. 

There are two main methods of Plastic recycling: 

(1) mechanical recycling, in which the plastic is washed, ground into powders, and melted.

(2) chemical recycling, in which the plastic is broken down into monomers. 

Most recycling plants break the plastic waste into fine pieces and melt it to be re-molded into a product. But after this process, the recycled plastic becomes weak in quality. There is a scientific reason behind this also.

In the recycling process, the polymer is broken first and secondly, the first time chemical or adulteration is done in plastic, it becomes almost impossible to adulterate it during recycling, so it does not recycle in its original form.


In plastic recycling, the plastic is usually converted into clothing or other commodities that cannot be recycled again. Most of the time, it is downcycled into a piece of fabric because it is no longer recyclable after one use. Most plastics can only be recycled once or twice into new plastic products. 


To make the recycled plastic usable, virgin material is added again. In this way, a product is prepared. This means that when the plastic is recycled two or three times, its quality becomes so bad that it is no longer useable.

Unlike plastic, this does not happen in glass and aluminum. Their quality is not degraded during the recycling process and they can be recycled countless times each time.

To make plastics recyclable again, scientists are working to find a formula that allows the original monomer of the plastic to survive (this process is called 'depolymerization').


Other research is going on that new types of plastic polymer should be discovered, from which chemical detergents or adulterants can be easily removed.

At present, there are many plastics that cannot be recycled even once. However, if this research brings color, it may be that plastic, like glass, aluminum, and metals, can be recycled again and again.


Apart from plastics, there is such a misconception about the paper that it can also be recycled many times. Whereas the same happens with paper that it gets weaker in the recycling process.

Paper is made of fibers so during recycle, these fibers become weak and small.

All in all, a printer paper can be reused from five to seven times. After this, the fibers become so small and weak that they are no longer usable. However, after this, it is reused as paper paste, which can be used in preparing a raw paper for cartons or in other things.



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