The term “plastics” includes materials composed of various elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Plastics typically have high molecular weight, meaning each molecule can have thousands of atoms bound together. Naturally occurring materials, such as wood, horn and rosin, are also composed of molecules of high molecular weight. 

The manufactured or synthetic plastics are often designed to mimic the properties of natural materials. Plastics, also called polymers, are produced by the conversion of natural products or by the synthesis from primary chemicals generally coming from oil, natural gas, or coal.

Plastics Resource Recovery

There are two ways to process plastics:

Chemical recycling: Any process by which a polymer is chemically reduced to its original monomer form so that it can eventually be processed (re-polymerized) and remade into new plastic materials that go on to be new plastic products. Chemical recycling helps us overcome the limits of mechanical recycling. It also helps manufacturers continue to push the boundaries of how, and where, recycled plastics can be used. Chemical recycling has long been used for nylons, and the industry is working to make it possible for other resin types.

Mechanical recycling: In most cases, a multi-step process is used to produce materials that make new plastic products. That process usually includes grinding, washing, separating, drying, regranulating and compounding.

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