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Sustainable “green” Chemistry

Introduction

How are plastics sorted for recycling?

The first step in recycling plastics is to sort the plastics by their resin type, or resin identification code. The resin identification code is a number assigned to a plastic product (or container) according to the type of polymers it is made of. While it was once common to directly use this code to identify the types of polymer(s) present, there are now other methods, such as near-infrared spectroscopy or density sorting approaches, that are used to sort mass quantities of plastic samples for recycling. (See “Polymer Chemistry” for more information on resin identification codes.)



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