Plastic became very popular in modern life during the 1950s and has become a major material used in manufacturing, building and packaging throughout western civilisation. Since its adoption however, it has become a major contributor to landfill and, as plastic does not break down for hundreds of years, it became a major problem. The recycling of plastics began in earnest during the 1980s. Government programs, consumer education and the development of industrial processes to transform discarded plastic into useful materials have all contributed to less plastic going to landfill.
The introduction of PETE and HDPE plastics in the 80’s and 90’s transformed the recycling effort. This type of plastic is able to be recycled and carries the identifiable recyclable logo of three arrows depicting a triangle.
There are more steps required in recycling plastics than in recycling paper, glass and metals. Plastic requires the extraction of dyes, fillers and other additives. The first step in recycling plastic is to sort it by the type of resin used in its structure, of which there are seven basic types, and sometimes it is also sorted by colour. The second step is to chop the plastic into small pieces, then clean it to remove debris and small residue. It is then melted down and compressed into pellets, these are called nurdles. The nurdles are transported to plastic processing plants and introduced into the manufacturing process.
Kartaway are a leading recycling and waste management company in Australia. They are able to recycle most waste collected, including plastics. Providing bins and skips to households, builders, body corporates, shopping complexes, multi storey complexes and educational facilities they sort and recycle collected waste. Kartaway also operate Recycling Depots for the public in Adelaide and Melbourne.