In the past six decades, since the mass production of plastics began, the global production of plastics has increased rapidly resulting in the development of 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics. Since plastics take more than 400 years to degrade, plastics recycling programs are essential to ensure both the health of our planet and the health of the plastics industry.
Recycling plastics keeps the product out of landfills and oceans; however, we need to recycle more. According to Science Advances, 79 percent of the plastic produced in the previous 60 years is accumulating in landfills or resting as litter.
Why is recycling plastics so important?
At some point,the United States, will run out of landfill area. It happened in Ireland where in 2016 several landfills reached annual capacity levels set up by the Irish EPA in November of that year. As a result, the nation was forced to enact emergency measures to avoid waste pile ups at residential homes.
China is facing a similar challenge as the nation’s consumption of consumer electronics and other plastic products increases. Japan has so much garbage and so little landfill space that the nation exports waste to Thailand and the Philippines and incinerates what it cannot export. As a result, both China (who has dramatically increased waste incineration) and Japan experience significantly low air quality as physical pollution is replaced by air pollution. To make matters worse, China, the Philippines, and Thailand are among the world’s top five contributors of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
Recycling the plastic we produce keeps it out of landfills and oceans and creates a self-sustaining plastics loop that enables consumers to continue utilizing plastic products.
In 2016, there were 6,172 million pounds of PET jars and bottles available for recycling. - NAPCOR
What is the Plastics Loop?
Plastic begins life when virgin polymer pellets are produced by companies like DuPont, BASF, and SABIC. These pellets are sent to compounders who melt the pellets down and add colors, glass strands, and other enhancements. The product is then re-pelletized and sent to manufacturers of vehicle plastic parts, television cabinets, and various plastic components.
When these products reach end-of-life, the plastic material is recycled to create pens, trash cans, gas containers, and other plastic products. In an ideal scenario, this plastic never makes to a landfill and is continually re-birthed into new products.
What does a healthy recycling program look like?
In Sweden, less than one percent of household waste is sent to landfills. In fact, the nation has gotten so good at recycling that it has turned it into a profitable revenue stream. Since other nations are running out of room to store their own waste and lack advanced recycling infrastructure, Sweden is charging for the import of waste. In 2014, the country made $100 million importing waste that it then used to heat the homes of its residents throughout the freezing Swedish winter.
In the United States, companies like KW Plastics Recycling in Troy, Alabama and Waste Management Recycle America in Houston, Texas are working to increase plastic recycling. Each company re-processes nearly 600 million pounds of plastics each year.
Over 1,600 business organizations in the U.S. are involved in recycling post-consumer plastic items. - EPA
Where does ACE fit in?
American Cutting Edge produces the knives used at every stage in the Plastics Loop. We create the blades used by petrochemical plastic production sites to transform the base chemicals into virgin plastic pellets using underwater pelletizers. These virgin pellets are then sent to compounders for further processing.
Compounders use our knives when introducing additives into the polymers, giving the new plastic pellets the desired physical properties depending on how and where they will be used. Another step in the Plastics Loop is the use of American Cutting Edge knives in the production of products from the formed plastic. Lastly, our blades are utilized by plastic recyclers to begin the process anew by granulating plastic bottles, molded parts, film, packaging, and other plastic materials so that it can re-enter the Plastics Loop.
How can ACE help you?
Our understanding of every stage of the Plastics Loops gives us material insight and knowledge that few suppliers can offer. We know first-hand, how blades respond to plastic materials of all types and how the changes that occur to this material throughout the Plastics Loop drive changes to blade materials.
Experience has taught us that raw materials make a tremendous difference in knife performance. For example, when granulating applications require D2 Tool Steel we only use true 1.2379. This distinction prevents our customers from unknowingly deploying potentially brittle knives. Brittle knives increase the likelihood of chips and breakage which contribute to increased downtime, costs, and maintenance, all of which detract from cost-effective and efficient recycling efforts.
More than 13.6 million tons of plastic scrap, valued at nearly $5.4 billion, were exported by all reporting countries in 2015. - ISRI
On a Mission to Make All Plastic a Reclaimable Resource
We all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of plastic that enters landfills and oceans. At ACE, our most valuable contribution is in optimizing the blades used by recyclers to improve efficiency and make it more cost-effective for our clients to support a healthy Plastics Loop.
To do this, we provide expert coaching and process analysis that focuses on boosting production while reducing the costs associated with maintenance and downtime. We perform failure analysis to understand why blade breakdowns occur and offer best-fit recommendations for improvement. We take a holistic approach to assessing your cutting application, evaluating both dies and rotors to expose performance and optimization opportunities.
As a result, our clients routinely experience decreased premature wear, a reduction in uneven die wear, and cost savings while improving production, safety, and machine performance. In many cases, our deep experience results in blade selections that provide higher wear resistance, increased life, and better performance than OEM blades.
Contact our industrial knife experts today to learn how blade optimization can improve your plastics recycling operation and keep your organization in the Plastics Loop!