High-Density Polyethylene - Milk, detergent & oil
bottles, Toys and plastic bags. HDPE is called natural since
that is it's natural color, and it is the most valuable because
it can be made into any color when it is recycled. Other
products are often packed in brightly colored bottles which are
mixed together at recycling plants into mixed color or rainbow
bales. Most of this material is later dyed black after it is
Recycling HDPE is a
pretty simple process. The bales are broken apart and ground
into small flakes. These flakes are then washed and floated to
removed and heavy (Sinkable) contaminants. This cleaned flake is
then dried in a stream of hot air and may be boxed and sold in
that form. More sophisticated plastic plants may reheat these
flakes, add pigment to change the color and run the material
through a pelletizer. This equipment forms little beads of
plastic that can then be reused in injection molding presses to
create new products. Some end uses for recycled HDPE are plastic
pipes, lumber, flower pots, trash cans, or formed back into non
food application bottles.
LDPE Low-Density Polyethylene - Many plastic bags. Shrink
wrap, garment bags. It is chemically similar to HDPE but it is
less dense and more flexible. Most polyethylene film is made
from LDPE which you often see as plastic bags and grocery sacks.
This scrap may be clear or pigmented and it is hand sorted and
baled at recycling processing plants.
Recycling LDPE is
verry similar to HDPE except special grinders are used to handle
the thin films. The films are often washed and re-pelletized or
used directly to make new products. Some end uses for recycled
LDPE are plastic trash bags and grocery sacks, plastic tubing,
agricultural film, and plastic lumber.
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