Recycling PVC Plastic Is Becoming Easier

There are many people in our community now who are quite accepting of the  idea of recycling. Through a process of education, people have now been able to  see the benefits of recycling, not only to the environment, but in terms of  energy conservation and cost savings. While this education has seen an increase  in the amount of material being presented for recycling, it hasn't always  followed that the general public understands how important it is for the right  type of material, especially plastics, to end up in the recycling bin. This lack  of knowledge often results in contamination of the loads picked up from the  kerbside, resulting in waste and increased costs for everyone.

Of all the items collected by councils and industrial waste collectors for  recycling, PVC plastic is one of the most misunderstood. The way to identify  this type of plastic is by looking at the inside of the triangle to see what  number is inside it. If the number is 3, the item is made from polyvinyl  chloride or PVC. 

Most recyclable plastics need to be separated before they can be processed,  however each plastic has a different chemical composition or polymer which has a  different temperature for melting them, making them incompatible with other  plastics. The plastics must be separated into their own polymer stream to boost  their recyclable value. 

PVC or vinyl is a thermoplastic meaning it softens on heating and hardens  when cooled. In industry, it is easy to recycle as it is clean waste in this  environment, and can be re-processed in-house and used for a number of  applications. It is used for larger items such as window frames, cabling, water  and drainage pipes and floor coverings. PVC plastic is taken to a registered  recycler where large industrial complexes have collecting systems to make the  recycling process much easier. There are several in most states. 

Because of contamination by other materials, it was difficult to recycle PVC  bottles. No recycling was done on PVC bottles collected kerbside in Australia last 2000.

Improvements over the past 10 years mean that 94 per cent of all households  in Councils with populations of 10,000 or more have access to recycling services  which collect PVC bottles. As Australia is an urbanized society, most medium to  large sized Councils will now pick up PVC for transfer to a materials recovery  facility. Plastic manufacturers have also been active in consumer education and  working with councils to increase the amount of material being recycled. 

As new technology becomes available and the collection infrastructure becomes  more sophisticated, the amount of PVC plastic being recycled will increase,  saving energy, reducing the use of natural resources and prolonging the PVC  cycle.