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How Does Plastic Recycling Work?

09.02.2023 7 min read

How Does Plastic Recycling Work?

Plastic Recycling in the UAE

Everything you need to know about plastic recycling in the UAE

In the UAE, 4 billion plastic bottles are used each year. Knowing that 40 percent of the plastic used in the country is single-use, the consequences on the local fauna are proportionally disastrous.

You may be asking yourself: What can I do to help, as the possibility of overflowing landfills and oceans inundated with plastic are so high? Making sure your household waste is correctly recycled is undoubtedly a positive step. That includes proper plastic recycling.

Each Emirate in the United Arab Emirates has recycling centers run by its local governments that are permitted to receive waste for recycling, including plastic waste, in addition to other smaller centers and bins.

It makes it easy for you to contribute to plastic recycling in the UAE, and adopt or maintain a sustainable lifestyle. However, it is always useful and interesting to know how the plastic recycling process works, in order to be sure that the plastic waste you're putting in the recycling bin or delivering to local recycling centers does not end up in landfills or the ocean. 

Why Is Plastic Recycling Important? 

Before we dive into how plastic recycling works, it is essential to understand why it is primordial in the UAE and elsewhere.

Recycling plastic is crucial since it has a terrible impact on the environment. Recycling our waste products results in less plastic being dumped in landfills, which is good for the environment.

Every year, tens of thousands of animals are harmed or even killed because they get tangled in plastic bags and packaging, or choke while attempting to consume them. Toxins build up in the bodies of animals that consume microscopic plastic particles, ultimately destroyed by people or other animals. 

For every ton of plastic that is recycled, 7.4 cubic yards of landfill area are spared. Toxic chemicals and pollutants are released into the atmosphere when plastic is burned to make space; therefore, recycling as much plastic as possible will help extend our landfills' life.

On the other hand, recycling plastics lowers the amount of non-renewable energy used to make new ones. Indeed, it requires substantially less energy to make new plastics from existing ones (recycling), than to create new plastics from natural resources. It lessens the load on the electrical system, saving coal and oil while lowering carbon emissions.

Even while many people try to recycle, there is still work to be done, especially regarding the collection, transport and correct treatment of the plastics to be recycled. Washing plastics at a high temperature, then crushing them and regenerating the material into new furniture, clothing, building materials, and containers, remains the best solution, and a priority for our environmental journey. 

The Importance of Recycling Plastic Bottles 

PET plastic makes up 90% of plastic bottles, including those for water and carbonated beverages. Life is so much simpler with plastic bottles. They are sturdy, hard to break, lightweight, and straightforward to hold. The ideal vessel and carrier for a variety of liquids, including water, fizzy drinks, oil, baby formula, and household cleansers, is a plastic bottle. Although the plastic bottle is a great product, what happens to it after it is empty?

How to properly dispose of plastic once it has been used has long been a concern for those who are concerned about the environment and the well-being of our world.

Even though the government aims to ban the use of single-use plastic bags, the inhabitants of the UAE use an astounding 13 billion plastic bags each year. The country has one of the highest rates of bottled water use in the world, with an average person using 450 plastic water bottles per year, according to statistics.

These bottles take up space in our landfills, which are needed to bury non-recyclable waste. There are more ways than discarding plastic to harm the ecosystem. Plastic can release toxins when it decomposes, contaminating our water and air but also harming humans, plants, and animals.

In this way, people in the UAE can take the initiative to collaborate to create a mechanism to recycle plastic bottles, and plastic in general. Our goal is to raise awareness concerning the long-term perspective, and propose effective solutions to involve everyone in a more sustainable lifestyle. These tons of plastic bottles can be turned into other useful products, such as cushions, containers, and even new plastic water bottles. With the RECAPP app, you are not only contributing to saving your ecosystem, but you can also be rewarded for it. The more you recycle, the more points you earn on your app that can go toward these rewards.

How Is Plastic Recycling Performed?

Nowadays, only 9% of plastics are recycled – quite a disappointing and worrying figure. Recycling plastic involves a lot of steps. First, the plastic must be collected from residences, companies, and other locations. After collection, the plastic is transported to the treatment center, where each piece of plastic will be pre-sorted to separate plastic from glassware, metal, and other items that people place together in recycling bins. The plastic is then wiped to remove any traces of chemicals, liquids, or food.

After that, the plastic is cleaned, dried, and split. It is next broken down into tiny pieces by being shredded or crushed.

They are eventually melted down and made into tiny pellets roughly the size of a grain of rice, or compounds and flakes. These tiny pieces are then packaged and sold to businesses, so that they can melt them down and turn them into various goods in a virtuous circle. 

When you think about all the plastic toys, tools, electronics, and other items in your house, you can realize the potential recycling benefits hidden. If you want to learn more details about the plastic recycling process and partake in the circular economy, here is a breakdown of the steps involved in this process:

1.      Collection and Distribution

Gathering post-consumer items from households, workplaces, and institutions is the initial step in plastic recycling. The local government can carry out this function, but private firms are also capable of doing so. Another choice is to bring plastics to public recycling bins or other places of waste collection, such as treatment centers. The RECAPP app makes this step accessible for everyone. Through the app, you can easily schedule the convenient pick-up time for a waste collection at your door, on demand. You do not need to be at home for it – putting your recyclables bag in front of your doorstep is enough.

2.      Sorting

Sorting comes next in the recycling of plastic. Recycling companies must separate the many forms of plastic from one another. Additionally, plastics are organized according to other characteristics, including color, density, and use.

3.      Washing

Since cleaning removes some of the contaminants that can hinder the process or destroy a batch of recovered plastic, washing is an important stage in recycling plastic. Hot water is used to remove all of the impurities and other chemicals, in order to obtain a pure plastic product ready to be transformed to new product. 

4.      Shredding

After being passed through shredders, the plastic is reduced to smaller pieces. Unlike solid plastic items, these tiny bits can be reused after further processing. 

5.      Identifying and Separating Plastic

Here, the grade and quality of the plastic parts are evaluated. First, they are separated according to density, determined by hanging the microplastics in a container to store water. The "air classification" assessment, which establishes the plastic parts' thickness, is conducted after this. The shredded plastic is put into a wind tunnel, where smaller, lighter particles float and more extensive, heavier parts settle to the bottom.

6.      Extruding

The scraps of shredded plastic are converted into a form that manufacturers can use in this penultimate step of the recycling process. To create pellets, compounds, or even flakes, the crushed plastic is heated and then combined. There is no limitation regarding the final recycled product: clothing, containers, furniture, or new bottles can be made. 


As we become more mindful of how we utilize resources and produce things, the recycling of plastic is anticipated to experience significant growth.

RECAPP is playing its part in this growth by providing an app that allows you to engage in free but effective recyclable waste collection. Download the app and get started now. 

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