Recycling the Unrecyclable

Gasification does not compete with recycling. In fact, it enhances recycling programs. Many materials, such as metals and glass, must be removed from the MSW stream before it is fed into the gasifier. These are recycled.

Sorting of MSW is undertaken in the processing plant to extract metals, glass, inorganic materials and some plastics, resulting in the increased recycling and utilization of materials. However, not all waste can be recycled, especially plastics.

Thermoset plastics have polymers that cross-link to create an irreversible chemical bond, making it impossible to remelt them into new material no matter how much heat is applied. As a result, these materials cannot be recycled. Additionally, the quality of a given piece of recyclable plastic may only be maintained through two to three recycling processes before it becomes unusable and must be disposed of in a landfill. Coffee cups and other multi-layered waste are difficult and expensive to reprocess since they cannot be easily separated from one another. If other materials have food residue on them, they cannot be recycled.

Therefore, a significant portion of waste is headed for landfills despite the best efforts of government agencies and consumers. Only 31% of plastic garbage gets recycled, even in nations with strict waste management policies and best practises for recycling. So, in a “best case” scenario for the world, about 70% of plastics end up in landfills. These allegedly unrecyclable plastics provide excellent, very energetic gasification feedstock. As a result, we are able to recycle waste into Green electricity.