Dec 262010
 
Christmas tree with presents
Image via Wikipedia

On average we each consume 120 grammes of plastic wrapping on Christmas gifts most of which is of a type which almost impossible to recycle.

Now researchers at the University of Warwick have devised a new technique which could process 100% of Christmas and other household plastic instead of the tiny fraction that currently actually gets processed

Warwick have devised a new technique which could process 100% of Christmas and other household plastic instead of the tiny fraction that currently actually gets processed — typically only 12% of such waste is truly recycled often the rest is often put into land fill or simply burnt as fuel.

Some plastic still goes straight to land fill but householders currently spend a great deal of effort separating out the rest of their plastic waste believing it will be recycled yet typically only 12% of “Municipal Plastic Solid Waste” is truly recycled. It is often simply too time consuming to separate out and clean the various types of plastic of their persistent labels or other problems, as that requires significant laborious human intervention. An additional problem is that often objects are made of more than one plastic that would require different treatments.

However University of Warwick engineers have come up with a simple process that can cope with every piece of plastic waste and can even break some polymers such as polystyrene — back down to its original monomers (styrene in the case of polysterene).

The Warwick researchers have devised a unit which uses pyrolysis (using heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose of materials) in a “fluidised bed” reactor. Tests completed in the last week have shown that the researchers have been able to literally shovel in to such a reactor a wide range of mixed plastics which can then be reduced down to useful products many of which can then be retrieved by simple distillation.

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