International Adhesive/Polymer development Engineer


It has been a long time before we started to have a look on the environmental impact of human activities. Thanks to people’s awareness, we began to recycle materials (it is developed since 1900s in USA [1], 1970 in France [2], 1920s in Australia [3]). Recycling is the practice of reusing materials instead of throwing them away. Nowadays, almost 55% of worldwide plastic bottles are recycled in 2013 whereas only 14% of all plastic materials are [4]. This is the first step to increase the depolluting process but we still have a lot of work.


Why is it essential to recycle?

The first solution of waste disposal was to use landfill and incinerator plant. However, landfill became more and more full and polluting (soil and groundwater). Recycled materials allow the preservation of natural resources, the limitation of greenhouse effects and save energy.

For example, the recycling of aluminium cans saves 95% of energycompare to the original minerais extraction and 1 ton of plastic bottles(corresponds to about 30,000 bottles) saves 700kg of crude petrol [5].


In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalents to a 34.3 percent recycling rate [6].

In 2014, Europe recycling average is 32% and only four countries are over 50% (Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland). EU countries should recycle at least 50% of their municipal waste by 2020 [7].


What can we do with recycled products?

Thanks to recycled products, new products are made. For example, from plastic bottles different commodity could be produce as duvet or teddy.

Example of valorised products from recycled materials [8]


The next step is to produce high added value products.


Many developments have to be done which offer numerous advantages:

  • Nowadays, only PET and PEhd plastic materials are recycled. However, PS for example could be recycled: the development of cheaper way to recycle some type of polymer opens lot of opportunities for the materials revalorisation industry.
  • Development of biodegradable packaging: fast food for example used a lot of packaging but it is for short time. In this case, the increase of biodegradable products is a solution which fit with the usage.
  • Recycling materials are cheaper and more suitable than virgin ones. The development of new products from recycled materials offers competitive cost. Moreover, virgin plastic price is highly dependent on the crude oil price: even if the barrel price down as in 2015, the cost of recycled products is still lower but the operating margins are less favourable. [9]

However, some issues have to be investigated:

  • At the moment, only 14% of all worldwide plastic were revalorized in 2013. Government and industries should put together their influence to increase population awareness in terms of environment.
  • An effort in terms of R&D is needed to provide high quality recycled materials. This required the knowledge of the origin of the recycled material to obtain different quality which could reach mechanical and physico-chemical properties.
  • There is a need to work on the recycled products to obtain complete safety as virgin materials. In terms of fatigue properties, recycled materials are still weaker than virgin ones, thus it is essential to overtake this limit.


Recycled plastics: the future of our products!

Develop the valorisation of recycled materials appears as an effective way to limit the environmental footprint. Manufacturers should continue to increase their R&D project regarding integration of recycled materials within their products. It is highly time to international industries to take care of the recycle material use!