Info_6_-_Plastic.doc - 6 Plastics Recycling Did you know In...

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6. Plastics Recycling Did you know? In 2002, over 159,000 tonnes of plastic was sent for recycling in Australia, only 13.4% of the total plastic consumption for that year i . Victoria alone accounts for 43% of the total plastics recycled in Australia, with over 68,000 tonnes recycled in 2002 ii . In 2002-2003, 7.9% (by weight) of household garbage in Victoria was made up of plastics iii . Recycling PET bottles saves 84% of the energy it takes to make PET bottles from raw materials iv .* Each year, Australians use 6.9 billion plastic shopping bags. Tied together this amount of bags would stretch around the world 37 times! v History of plastic Plastic is a relatively new material. It was invented by Alexander Parkes in 1860 and has only been used widely in the past few decades. However, it has quickly become a popular material with over 1.1 million tonnes of plastic consumed in 2002 alone vi . Manufacture from virgin materials Plastics are made from crude oil, gas and coal. The Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association (PACIA) states that 'much of the raw material for plastics comes from waste in petroleum refining—some of which would otherwise be flared off and wasted'. Plastics are polymers, that is, long chain molecules made from smaller molecules called monomers. The polymers are made in large vessels under special conditions of temperature and pressure, using special catalysts. At this stage, the polymers are in the form of resin pellets or powders. There are about 40 different plastics or polymers used today. Each has a different chemical composition and set of properties that makes it suitable for certain applications. Plastic products are made in three stages: 1. resin pellets or powders are heated to soften them 2. the softened material is formed into a certain shape 3. Product is cooled, retaining the shape. There are several ways that plastic products are formed. These include injection moulding (for specially shaped objects, such as cups, toys and plumbing fittings), extrusion moulding (for plastic sheets, pipes and tubes) and blow moulding (to make bottles and drums). Other techniques are used to manufacture fibres, biscuit trays, margarine tubs and foam trays vii .
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  • Winter '11
  • DavidDusseau
  • Business, soft drink bottles, EcoRecycle Victoria, Industry Environment Council

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