Seven challenges for plastic recycling - how Stena Recycling can help


Despite their significant value, most end-of-life plastic products are currently incinerated. By understanding the properties of different types of plastic, we can recycle much more than we do today and create a circular economy for this valuable resource. Below, is an explanation of the challenges facing plastic recycling and how we can help you manage them.


The term plastic is, in fact, a collective name for several hundred different kinds of material. Due to lack of knowledge, different types of plastic are often combined in manufacturing processes, which makes recycling them much more difficult. This often leads to plastics being incinerated, which is a major waste of valuable resources. We have the tools and knowledge to create circular recycling for plastics. From product design to waste sorting and collection, we can keep more plastic in circulation. We can help you with training and by sharing our knowledge. By collaborating on an analysis of your business, we can set goals and create clear action plans.


As virgin raw materials are sometimes cheaper, we must find the added value that plastic recycling creates. Highlighting your recycling work and objectives for customers and other stakeholders can positively affect both sustainability communication and sales.


A great many products are manufactured in ways that make the plastic content difficult to separate and, therefore, recycle. For example, different plastic types may be combined or other materials, such as glue and metal screws, bonded or fixed to the plastic. By considering these issues at the design stage, it becomes easier to disassemble products into waste fractions that do not contain residues of other material. This requires specific expertise and knowledge of materials. Stena Recycling can offer both training and guidance so that the plastic content in end-of-life products can be returned into circulation and used to manufacture new products.


Plastic is a complex material and each type has unique properties that affect its color, shape, structure and melting point. Therefore, it is important to sort plastic into different categories so that it can be kept as pure as possible. Stena Recycling can help, not only with collection but also with advice about of what to consider when sorting waste.


A stable supply of recycled plastic raw materials is vital to increasing its use among manufacturers. We have developed two completely new processes at the Stena Nordic Recycling Center that enable us to recycle more plastic and increase the availability of recycled material on the market. One process recycles soft plastic (LDPE) into plastic pellets that can be used to make plastic bags and garbage sacks. The second process recycles the plastic from electronic products so that more of it can be returned into circulation. We also have a large international network that allows us to find the right kind of recycled plastic to suit your needs.


However important recycling is, your business comes first. We understand how pressurized manufacturing can be and find efficient approaches to recycling that don’t interfere with your production processes. For example, there should never be holdups because the sorting containers are full. Therefore, we always ensure that waste is collected and taken away at exactly the right time.


Effecting real change takes collaborative work. Not only between our customers and ourselves, but throughout the product chain - raw material suppliers, subcontractors and manufacturers. This type of collaboration already exists in the steel industry, for example, but not in plastics.


Plastic recycling is complex and requires manufacturers and suppliers to find new solutions together. Here are four things we should be doing.

  1. Consider recycling at the product design stage
  2. Use recycled plastics wherever possible
  3. Avoid mixing plastic types in products
  4. Ensure end-of-life products are easier to disassemble and recycle


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