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Material testing and infrared spectroscopic identification of plastics in recycling

Marion Egelkraut-Holtus, Shimadzu Deutschland GmbH

Albert van Oyen, Carat GmbH


Plastic recycling is becoming ever more important - especially considering that mineral oil as a source of polymer raw material will not be available in this volume in the long run. The resources of the Earth and its atmosphere are finite. Among other things, "fresh" polymer is produced from naturally occurring mineral oil. Depending on the intended use, different additives are added to support its product life.

And at its end, the plastic ends up in the waste cycle. Under ideal conditions, the polymer is recycled and converted into new forms with new properties, such as when a plastic with UV stabilizer and a plastic with plasticizers meet. After the recycling process, both polymers are fused and show new characteristics.

A complex task for recycling companies is to analyze and identify plastic waste and determine its mechanical properties. Based on these results, the plastic is separated into different categories in order to be able to further process it in a targeted manner. The mechanical properties of the plastic are important for the end product. The specification for examination is based on ISO 527-1/2. By way of example, the challenges of polystyrene are considered in this article. This plastic group belongs to the family of styrene polymers.

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