Recycling & Plastic Industry

A Dictionary of Terms
ABS
An acronym for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic.
Agglomerate
Ununiformed clusters of plastic that is generated from a densifier machine. Typically used for light films, foams, and fabrics. (Picture below shows Styrofoam (EPS) in an agglomerate form
Aspirator
Recycling technology that uses air to separate different types of commingled materials.
Baler
A very common type of recycling equipment used to compact loose materials such as cardboard, film, bottles, etc.. in order to increase the amount of weight on outbound shipments and reduce the amount of warehouse space taken with the materials. The compacted cubes that the machinery produces is called a bale. (Pictures shown below are of a vertical baler, a horizontal baler, and a bale of cardboard)
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Bale Density
Bales shall be compressed to a minimum of 10 pounds per cubic foot and a maximum density to be determined by individual contract. Increased density may improve transportation efficiency, but over- compression may adversely affect the ability to separate, sort, and reprocess the material.
Blow Molding
A plastic manufacturing process by which hollow parts are formed. A preform or parison is clamped into a mold and air is pumped into it to push the plastics outward until it matches the desired shape of the mold. Plastic bottles are one of the most common products made from a blow molding process.
Stationary Compactor
A common type of recycling or waste equipment that that employs a hydraulic ram to compress loose materials into a receiver bin in order to obtain a heavier weight for transportation. (Picture shown below)
Compression Molding
A method used in plastic manufacturing where force is applied to force the material into contact with all areas of the mold.
Contamination
Unspecified materials must not exceed 2% of total bale weight. Bales which contain over 2% will be subjected to reduction in the price of the material as well as potential disposal charges. Allowable contamination is lower for regrind or densified materials. Quality of plastic is the primary factor which determines the value of recycling commodities.
Copolymer
A polymer of two or more different monomers.
Densifier
Recycling Machinery used for processing lighter materials such as film or foam. Densified material is compressed through mechanical means and typically sent on for additional processing.
Extrusion
A common plastic processing and manufacturing method that forces material through a die or into a mold. (Picture shown below).
Flake
Bottle or thin sheet material that has been processed through a grinder. (Picture shown below is of PET bottle flake coming out of a grinder).
Flatbed
Open trailer used for transporting materials.
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Float/Sink
Equipment within a plastic wash line that separates plastics by their density whereas the lighter materials float and the heavier grades sink. (Picture shown below is a PET Wash Line with a float sink tank to separate the PET from the PE/PP Caps and Labels).
FTL
Full Truckload – Refers to a trailer or flatbed pickup that will take up the entire capacity.
Gaylord Box
A corrugated container commonly used to contain and ship loose materials. (Picture shown below)
Granulator/Grinder
Recycling equipment used in processing and size reduction of plastics. These machines come in various sizes and types depending on the type, size, and volume of material to be processed. (Picture shown below)
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Gross weight
A term that generally is found in commerce or trade applications, and refers to the total weight of a product and its packaging.
HDPE
An acronym for High Density Polyethylene plastic. One of the most common types of plastic used today.
HMW
An acronym for High Molecular Weight plastic. HMW HDPE has very good impact properties in cold and hot weather. It has good environmental stress crack resistance (ability to contract and expand numerous times before cracking).
ISO 14000
A family of standards related to environmental management that exists to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment.
LDPE
An acronym for Low Density Polyethylene plastic.
LLDPE
An acronym for Linear Low Density Polyethylene plastic.
LTL
A transportation term that refers to a pickup that is less than a full truckload.
Melt Flow (MFI)- Different types of plastics all melt at different rates. The melt flow measures the rate at which plastic melts under a specific temperature and a specific weight applied.
Metric Ton (MT)
A unit of mass or weight in the metric system equal to 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds)
Monomer
A molecule that can combine with others of the same kind to form a polymer. Polymers can also be composed of different kinds of monomers.
MRF
A Material Recovery Facility that typically collects post-consumer waste from curbside recycling programs and sorts the materials received into various commodity grades. (Image shown below)
Net Weight
Refers to the weight of the product or material alone, discounting the weight of its container or packaging.
OCC
Old Corrugated Containers or more commonly referred to as simply Cardboard. (Image shown below)
PC
An acronym for Polycarbonate Plastic. A 5 gallon water bottle is a common application for PC plastic.
PC/ABS
A blend of Polycarbonate and ABS plastics. Commonly used for electronic and computer cases.
PC/CD
Refers to metalized Compact Disks that are made of polycarbonate plastic.
PCR
Post-Consumer Resin. Refers to material that was recycled from feed stock that was from a residential or consumer application.
Pelletize
The recycling process of melting plastics back into a pellet form so it can be re-used back into a new manufacturing application. The pelletizing process typically includes a melt filtration step that greatly enhances the quality by removing contaminants.
PET or PETE
Polyethylene terephthalate, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination with glass fiber.
Post-Consumer
Refers to material recovered after the product satisfied its intended purpose by a consumer and/or business.
Post-Industrial
Refers to material recovered from a manufacturing or business application prior to the product reaching its intended use.
PP
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging and labeling, textiles, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types. It is versatile, rugged, and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids.
Preform
An injected molded tube like plastic form that is used by blow molders to manufacture a plastic bottle.
Purge
A term used to describe the drool or drippings that come from an extruder when processing plastics
Receiver Bin
A waste or recycling collection bin that connects to a compactor.
Recovery
The Recovery rate is a measurement that is used to track and illustrate the overall effectiveness of a recycling and sustainability program. It is the total of all diverted waste (Recycling, Re-use, and Waste to Energy) as a percentage of your total waste volume.
Regrind
Material that was sized through a grinder or granulator. The most common industry regrind size is 3/8”.
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Repro
An abbreviation referring to Reprocessed Plastic Pellets.
Roll-off Bin
An open top dumpster style bin characterized by a rectangular footprint, utilizing wheels to facilitate rolling the dumpster in place. The open top container is designed to be transported by special roll-off trucks. Roll-offs are commonly used to transport loose material such as cardboard. (Image Below)
Roll-off Truck
A truck commonly used in the recycling and waste industry to transport roll-off bins or compactor receiver bins. (Image below)
3 yd Bin
A metal bin typically with wheels commonly used in the recycling and waste industry to store and transport loose materials. (Image Below)
Short Ton (ST)
A unit of mass or weight that is equal to 2000 lbs.
Sustainability
The capacity to endure. Sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, and the responsible management of resources.
Tare
The packaging or container portion of the gross weight. This amount is typically deducted from the weight in order to measure the true material volume.
Thermoform
A common manufacturing method that applies heat to plastic sheets to make it pliable and then be formed into a mold. Once the plastic is molded it is then trimmed to make a finished product.
Zero Waste
A recycling and/or sustainability program that has achieved a waste diversion rate of a minimum of 90% of its waste byproducts being diverted from the landfill.
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