The Quality in the Separation of Rigid Packaging of High-density Polyethylene – Application to a Real Case in Portugal


In recent years, companies producing high-density polyethylene have been affected by huge reductions in sales volumes as well as the value of these same sales.
The PFAU-PMP collects and treats different types of plastics that, due to their physic-chemical characteristics, can be recycled, valued, and subsequently reintegrated into the value chain (for example, high and low density polyethylene, polypropylene and polycarbonate).
PFAU’s Portuguese office had the necessity to improve the quality of 4000 tons of high-density polyethylene, currently packaged in bales. To do it the company felt the need to proceed with a correct sorting solution, taking into account that the Portuguese recycler involved in this project (for reasons of confidentiality will be called Company ABC) has some legal obligations with product treatment, and also that some value must be added to the final product.
The objectives of this research are to study how to proceed to the correct separation of the packages, through product quality criteria, and to define which of the processes, mechanical or chemical, is the most correct for the treatment of 4000 tons of polyethylene.
Based on this study, it is concluded that it is possible to improve the quality of the final product by introducing a pre-automatic manual sorting carpet, allowing correct color separation, removal of contaminants and identification of the polyethylene.
Finally, it is also concluded, that the process of mechanical recycling is more appropriate than chemical recycling, since the chemical processes are extremely expensive and technically complex.

Author Information
José Miguel Soares, ISEG - Universidade de Lisboa, and ADVANCE/CSG, Portugal
Fernanda Mendes, GOVCOPP - University of Aveiro, Portugal

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2019
Stream: Economic Sustainability: Environmental Challenges and Economic Growth

This paper is part of the ECSEE2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon