European recycled film quality impacted by degradable plastics

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"South Europe waste stream poses quality issues in recycled plastic production," PRE

Waste streams in the South of Europe pose a quality issue in films with recycled content production due to a higher share of degradable plastics, according to the latest release by Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE). 

In a trial done on 1,000 tonnes of equally purchased qualities of waste from Northern Europe and Southern Europe suppliers found substantial quality discrepancies in the recycled film.

According to PRE, even very low quantities of degradable plastics in the traditional plastic waste streams have a “significant, negative impact” on recycled products.

In the trial, tests were performed on industrial lines to first produce recycled plastics from waste with 98/2 post-consumer qualityand then to convert into a film of 50-micron thickness.

“The extrusion worked normally with recycled plastics coming from Northern Europe. However, holes and specks occurred regularly in the film produced with recycled waste coming from Southern Europe,” said the 18 Sept release.

To understand the defects and ruptures of the film, samples were analysed by IR, thermal analysis as well as via gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

The analyses, said the report, demonstrated that “most of the degradation is coming from substances used in production of degradable plastics e.g. starch, polylactide (PLA) and/or polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT).”

“The tests show that there is a big impact on the functionality of recycled plastics coming from Southern Europe waste films flows. Therefore, it is necessary to develop separate streams not only for bio-waste but also degradable plastics in order to make sure that degradable plastics do not enter waste streams of conventional plastics,” PRE added.

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