Nope, we haven’t discovered a perpetual motion machine that reuses its own energy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion). Each time you recycle HDPE, it takes less energy to produce into resin than the original virgin plastic raw materials it comes from. As we increase or maximize the content of recycled plastic in the resin used to produce containers and packaging, we reduce the production energy needed.
In a previous blog post http://tinyurl.com/272j829, we mentioned how bottle-to-bottle strategies reduced the energy needed to produce subsequent bottles. Here is a table that details that aspect from the Franklin LCI report. A complete copy of the report may be found at http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_plastics/sec_pfpg.asp?CID=1439&DID=10907
Little note on what things stand for:
– Mm Btu is Million BTUs needed to produce a thousand pounds of resin
So, let’s look at line 2. If the produced resin is made from 100% virgin materials, it takes 35.8 mm Btu to produce a thousand lbs. What the Franklin LCI report looked at was if you went through 1 cycle of recycling, (Line 4) with 50% virgin HDPE source and 50% recycled HDPE source. The energy savings are 45% of what it would be if it had been 100% virgin (last column).
Now, extrapolate that by continuing to include 50% more recycled content vs. 50% less virgin content. After 4 times of recycling, line 7 shows us that the energy used to produce that 1000 lbs. is 16% of the original virgin resin.
The LCI report does not elaborate on this, but on Line 3, if we started the recycling process right away with 100% recycled content and no virgin content the first time we reused it, it would take only 10% of the energy to produce the resin than the original virgin resin.
Clearly, we need to recycle our HDPE back into the production process to realize significant energy savings and to reduce need to produce virgin resin.
We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts.
Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.