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August 3, 2021
3 Ways Recycling Technology Keeps Plastic Bottles Out of Landfills
Landfill with plastic which could be diverted to a recycling facility

Have you ever wondered what happens to that plastic bottle after you toss it into the recycling bin? For many of us, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” In reality, the bottle goes through an important journey to eventually become new products like recycled polyester fabric, PET,  toys, or building materials. Recycling companies use different technologies to convert post-consumer plastic into new materials. Some technologies are mechanical and others chemical. Some even offer more advanced, proprietary recycling technology. Here is a brief overview of each.

Mechanical Recycling

PET flakes from mechanical recycling
PET flakes from mechanical recycling

Mechanical recycling involves physically crushing and grinding the plastic into small flakes or granules. Mechanical recyclers take those small pieces and melt and reform them into new plastic products, such as toys, recycled plastic containers, or building supplies like deck planks or lumber

To be successful, mechanical recycling requires careful sorting of recycled plastics. This is because not all types of plastic are suitable for grinding and reuse. Machines sort the plastics by type, thickness, color, and size. Some types of plastic are unusable and discarded. So while mechanical can be less expensive than other technologies, it doesn’t keep every piece of plastic out of landfills. 

Traditional Chemical Recycling

Chemical Recycling of plastics
Chemical Recycling of plastics

Chemical recycling is one answer to the problem of how to recycle plastic that is difficult to process mechanically. That’s because chemical recycling breaks down the plastic at the molecular level, using solvents or chemicals. The result is a raw material that companies transform into a wide variety of products, from synthetic fuel to fibers. 

Chemical recycling can handle more types of plastics and more contaminants. In other words, consumers don’t have to be as diligent about sorting and washing their plastics before putting them in the recycling bin. This means a higher percentage of recycled plastics can be renewed.

A concern about chemical recycling is the expense and the chemical byproducts. For that reason, some companies are looking to refine the process to be cleaner and more efficient. 

Advanced Plastic Recycling Technologies 

Saya's 5 Stage Filtration and 2 Purification Process
Saya’s 5 Stage Filtration and 2 Purification Process

Advances to chemical recycling are making it cleaner and more effective than ever before. The future of recycling plastic bottles includes implementing more efficient technology. For instance, SAYA uses advanced plastic recycling technology to renew water bottles into yarns for multiple uses. We renew discarded water bottles through a proprietary, five-stage filtration process. This is followed by two stages of purification for guaranteed safety and purity.

The resulting flakes are then transported to in-house facilities. There, the facilities batch-optimize them to control color and tenacity. After that, they transform them into pellets. The pellets are then ready to be extruded into recycled yarns designated for a specific end-use.

The results of this process are remarkable. SAYA has grown into the world’s largest manufacturer of post-consumer recycled performance fiber with recycling networks that repurpose over 75 billion bottles every year. Working with a network of 13 PET recycling facilities worldwide, SAYANow serves as the backbone of our sustainable textile business.

For more information about the differences between mechanical, chemical, and advanced recycling technologies, read more here. 

To learn more about SAYA’s offerings, contact change@sayarenew.com

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