Processing > Overview

Processing plastic is one of the four main cornerstones of the project. Processing of the collected plastics involves several distinct activities that are essential in re-cycling, up-cycling and re-using collected plastic waste.

The seperate aspects of processing include:

As with collecting the waste plastics, the processing aspect is also very hands on which gives good opportunities to organise physical activities around each of the processing stages. These activities lend themselves well to all age groups.

Plastics Identification

Identification uses the comparison of symbols to identify the type of plastic. Plastics without symbols may also be able to be identified using other methods. Some plastics are separated based on the intended use rather than the plastic itself, for example polythene bags can be laminated together using an iron, the resultant sheeting can then be used as an alternative for material.

Recording the number and types of different items is a good exercise as it helps identify what our general plastic waste is made of. For example a large portion of household waste comes from food packaging, whereas plastics drinks bottles form a high percentage of public municipal waste.



The cleaning aspect is a challenge for the recycling process. Removal of labels and cleaning of partially used contents is essential for producing good quality raw material. Any contaminants left at this stage will impact the quality of the end product. Some small scale cleaning of collected waste may be undertaken selectively in the classroom but generally collected waste should be cleaned as part of a larger process. 


Preparing the plastics

Plastic preparation methods depend on the ultimate use / reuse of the material. Some plastics are shredded or granulated to form new raw materials that can then be used in various manufacturing processes to make new products. Some items can be up-cycled eg used to create a new product that increases its value. And some can simply be re-used. If you have some of the recycling equipment available to your group, then you can shred the collected plastic into new raw material. If you don't have access to the equipment you can still use the collected plastics for other projects.