MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology

Re: recycling composite materials

Area: Environment/Ecology
Posted By: Matthew McConeghy, Faculty Science
Date: Sat Oct 12 08:46:06 1996
Message ID: 835370414.En


Mostly, the plastic parts are burned off.
Plastic melts at a much lower temperature than metal 
 -- when metal parts are heated to melt them down for recycling, 
the  plastic is melted and burned (and destroyed) at the same time.

There might be several kinds of plastic in a car -- when they 
melt they get mixed up and then they can't be used for new parts.
Some plastics are destroyed by heat and can't be re-used.

A really good plan would be to figure out how to get the plastic and
metal separated before the metal is melted down for recycling. In some
European countries they are working hard on designing cars that are
easier to disassemble. The new cars will be easy to take apart, and 
recycling workers will be able to separate out all the different kinds 
of plastics and metals so that they can be recycled easily.

Our local recycling plant in Rhode Island has a great tour that 
shows all the different machines... Maybe you could go on a tour at 
a recycling plant near your home. You might be able to get to see
how they separate the metal and plastic in trash... 

Good luck!


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