Christmas hangover: recycle plastic

Plastic wrapping on Christmas gifts like toys and perfume has, until now, been 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. Typically only 12% of such waste is truly recycled, the rest is often put into landfill or simply burnt as fuel.

The researchers have devised a unit which uses pyrolysis (using heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose of materials) in a “fluidised bed” reactor. The products the team has been able to reclaim from mixed plastic include wax and other products that can be used to make new plastics including PET, acrylic sheets and paint pigments.

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