Recycling options

With increasing regulatory pressure to minimise disposal of plastics in landfill, and the obvious
desire of the industry to implement sustainable development, improving the scope of recycling technologies for PVC is important. There are two main options for the recycling of PVC waste: mechanical recycling and feedstock recycling. VinylPlus pays special attention to some of these technologies' potential for an economically sustainable recycling of "mixed and difficult" PVC waste.

Mechanical recycling: Mechanical recycling covers processes which do not break polymer chains into small components. It is well suited to pre-sorted, single waste-stream waste. Within the mechanical recycling category, two subcategories are defined: conventional and non- conventional technologies.

  • Conventional technologies describe long established processes which usually sort, shred and separate components within the waste stream resulting in granulated recycled PVC that can be used in the manufacture of new products.
  • Non-conventional technologies cover alternative processes that often use solvent based processes or pre-processing to access PVC from more difficult or complex waste streams. The VinyLoop® process is such an example

Feedstock recycling: Feedstock recycling is more suitable for unsorted plastic mixtures and waste streams containing composite materials. These processes involve (usually) thermal treatment of the PVC waste stream with recovery of hydrogen chloride that can then be returned to the PVC production process or used in other processes. The hydrocarbon part of the PVC can be used to generate syngas (or synthesis gas – an industrially useful mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which can be used as a feedstock for chemicals production.

For detailed information please consult the "PVC Recycling Technologies" brochure.