Plastics

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The story of plastic

The development of plastics is believed to have started around 1860, when a US pool and billiard board company offered a prize of $10 000 to a person who could design the best substitute for natural ivory.
One of the entrants, although not the winner, John Wesley Hyatt, developed a derivative for the contest. His product was quite successful commercially, being used in the manufacture of products from dental plates or men’s collars.

 

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Where do plastics come from

Most plastics are derived from petrochemical feedstock, which in turn originates from oil, natural gas or coal. In South Africa the gas comes from coal.

 

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Know your plastics

Despite the popular misconception, the identification code does not indicate the safety of the products – it is an international code used to identify the various plastics for effective recycling.
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The plastics recycling sequence

Plastics are collected and sorted into different types of plastics. The plastic articles are reduced in size i.e. cut up into smaller pieces with a granulator or shredder. The granulated flakes are put through a wash plant to remove labels, residual contents, and soil.
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