One of the greatest challenges in the future of the plastics industry – and its saving grace – is the recycling economy. Recycled plastics are vital to increasing sustainability and improve the image of the plastics industry.

Plastics recycling differs from glass, paper or metal recovery efforts due to the wide variety of plastic materials and compounds available on the market that go through recycling, which makes the process costlier and more laborious.

Unlike monopolymers, plastics compounds can be made from several plastics such as multi-layer films. One product can have different types of plastics integrated, which makes recycling cumbersome, as it becomes more difficult to separate the various plastics from one another.

The process of recycling plastics has to be reconsidered over the whole lifecycle of a product so that it becomes more economically, sustainable, and efficient in the near future.

Some global industry voices recommend including the recycling prospect right from the product design stage, such as producing thicker plastics films from only one plastic layer instead of composite multi-layers.

Another challenge in recycling plastics is the quality of the recycled materials, which has improved significantly in the recent years, and the consumer’s acceptance of using these materials in end products.

However, the most important challenge in the plastics recycling industry remains the legislation, regulation, and the education needed to emphasize the advantages of recycled plastics and how recycled materials can benefit plastic consumption and usage.

Acceptance of recycled plastics will drive manufacturers to produce higher quality products from recycled materials, and in larger quantities, which will lower the price as a result. This way, secondary plastics will get the same treatment at first-grade plastics and resins.

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