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PVC card recycling

Recycling of polyvinyl chloride will soon become obligatory. However, in order to implement this effectively, it’s worth to know several factors related to this matter.
Polyvinyl chloride, or in other words PVC, is an oil-salt based plastic. Since chlorine is a major part of its mass, producing a certain amount of PVC requires much less crude oil than producing the same amount of many other polymers.

PVC card recycling

PVC is a thermoplastic material, which means that when heated to a certain temperature it can be mixed, and when cooled it hardens again. The material is used to manufacture products that are used for long periods, even over 60 years. Besides its longevity, PVC is perfectly recyclable after use.
PVC blends are 100% recyclable: physically (mechanically), chemically or energetically. After their segregation from other waste, shredding, cleaning and removal of impurities, they are processed using various techniques – granulation or pulverisation – and can be reused for production. Products made of polyvinyl chloride can last for a long time while reducing waste generation.
There are two basic ways to recycle PVC. The first is mechanical recycling, where PVC waste is shredded into small pieces. Then it can be processed into a mixture ready for extrusion or rolling. The second method is batch recycling – waste is converted into chemical components that can be used to make PVC or other materials.
When it comes to conserving resources, landfilling, specifically burying PVC in landfills and takes up valuable land and wastes valuable material. Most PVC products are bulky and lightweight and can last for hundreds of years without degrading significantly. As the burying of rubbish is progressively being banned within the European Union, recycling is becoming the key if not the only alternative, to dispose used PVC products.
Collection is of course the beginning of recycling. The ultimate goal is to preserve liquid fuels and land for future generations.

It is good to know that post-consumer PVC includes materials that are used for different purposes and in different fields, from the moment it is considered waste. This rule applies to all materials, except those covered by the regulations governing packaging, automotive and electronic devices.
PVC has numerous other uses. It is used, for example, in the production of car seat covers and various other products. These are governed by specific recycling programmes, unless their quantity is not large enough to be subject to a specific recycling programme in a particular situation.
Due to its structure and composition, PVC can be easily recycled to obtain good quality material. Accurate and correct sorting is essential for optimal recycling of PVC materials. After an initial visual inspection, the collected PVC is shredded into pieces of about 10-15 cm. The metals and non-ferrous materials are then mechanically removed.

The uses of recycled PVC materials are twofold:

Recycled hard PVC is primarily used as an inner reinforcement layer in the production of pipes, garden furniture and hard coverings. After recycling, flexible PVC is turned into powder and is used as a filter in the production of various types of floor coverings. Other known applications are making road posts, fences, flexible hoses and pipes, shoes, bags, clothes etc.
Post-consumer PVC is classified as either inflexible or flexible PVC material. The main field of application for rigid PVC is construction. This is because polyvinyl chloride is a cheap building material that is easy to assemble. In recent years, this material has begun to replace traditional materials such as wood, cement or clay. Its persistence, durability and water resistance properties make it an excellent material for the production of building products.
Regarding the use of flexible PVC, it can be softer and more flexible after adding plasticisers. As such, it is used to make clothing and upholstery, as well as flexible hoses, pipes, floor coverings and roofing membranes. It is an excellent electrical insulator, which makes it a model material in the production of cables.
Moving on to the issue of collection, it should be noted that there are several sources of post-use PVC: renovation works, demolition, waste collection sites managed by local authorities or companies dealing with waste management.
Waste can be delivered to collection points managed by local authorities or waste management companies. It can also be delivered directly to a recycling company.
The next step is sorting. Waste often requires sorting and separation prior to recycling. This means separating PVC from other plastics and other types of waste. These activities are usually carried out by recycling companies.
The next step is to recover almost pure PVC that is ready for recycling. This stage involves grinding the sorted waste and removing iron, non-ferrous metals and other undesirable contaminants. The recovered PVC material is then sent for transport and sent to a specialised recycling company.
Since 2007, Recovinyl has introduced different classes for post-consumer collection PVC. Since then, post-consumer class A and class B PVC have been distinguished.

So how do you recognise the different classes of PVC waste?

Class A is a homogeneous, almost clean material in appearance, usually fairly clean, single-coloured and essentially separated from the overall mass of waste. The following materials can be accepted as PVC waste: residues from window frame installation, composite materials (consisting of two or more materials), material left over from the installation of cladding, residues from the installation of blinds.
Class B is PVC, which is made from more blended materials, with different uses and colours. Waste is usually dirty – used products, covered with dust and other impurities.
Class B is characterised by a higher degree of contamination and mixing. It requires additional conditioning treatments to complete the recycling process, both for collection and sorting entities and for recycling.