Bright Green Plastics, the Yorkshire-based plastic recycling firm that reprocesses over 40,000 tonnes of used plastic each year, has developed a new, heavy-duty recycled polymer formula for household wheelie bins.
The two wheeled plastic rubbish bins, as supplied by local authorities to facilitate the storage and collection of domestic waste, must be tough enough to withstand all weathers and rough handling for at least 10 years. Traditionally, to retain the high levels of durability required, only the recycled material that came from existing, defunct wheelie bins could be put back into the system. However, with a dependency on relatively small numbers of old bins becoming available, the scope for a circular economy in the manufacture of household waste bins has been, to date, limited.
The formulation specialists at Bright Green Plastics have now developed the technology to create a reliable, heavy-duty recycled polymer from a wide variety of post-consumer waste sources. The new formula is a mixed polyolefin, where Bright Green Plastics’ technicians use a blend of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE) feedstocks and the company’s patented BrightFusion additive to produce the exact properties required to maximise strength and integrity.
“This breakthrough in the reprocessing of polypropylene and polyethylene has the potential to transform the wheelie bin and wider manufacturing industries,” commented Bright Green Plastic’s product formulation manager, Jonathan Attwood.
“With 60m plus bins currently in use in the UK, not to mention the additional applications suitable for this tough, durable plastic, our innovation could significantly reduce the UK’s reliance on short-supply wheelie bin grind material, and therefore the secondary dependence on virgin plastic to fill the gaps – protecting both the environment and the future of the UK’s reprocessing industry.”
Under normal circumstances, PP and PE are immiscible and incompatible in the melt phase. If compounded, the part would have few end uses as the material is inherently weak. The two polymers are often difficult to separate due to their similar densities, presenting a challenge for the recycling industries, however, due to the technology the firm has developed, the performance and strength of the blended materials is extremely powerful.
Bright Green Plastics has the infrastructure and supply chain of feedstock to produce vast quantities of materials required to supply local authorities with bins which contain at least 97 % of reliable recycled plastic material. The reprocessing firm is now in discussions with manufacturers to trial the formula in the main structure of the bins, which will undergo rigorous testing with sledgehammers and weights to substantiate the plastic’s durability.
“The technical team at Bright Green Plastics are working tirelessly to develop bespoke formulations and solutions to improve the standards of recycled plastic in the UK, and make it easier for firms, across a wide variety of industries, to incorporate recycled materials into their products,” concludes Steve Spencer, managing director at Bright Green Plastics.
“In essence, all plastic production has the potential to be formed of recycled materials. With our ongoing developments and partnerships, such as our recent collaboration with the University of Liverpool, University of Manchester and Unilever, we’re on a mission to ensure no plastic waste ends up in landfill or the incinerator.”