Mechanical Recycling vs Chemical Recycling

Recycling plastics for use in new packaging makes a positive impact on the environment. There are two main types of recycling: mechanical and chemical. Let’s take a look at how these processes differ.

In mechanical recycling, varying plastic types enter into the recycling process. The plastics go through grinding, resulting in flakes of plastic which are then washed and separated (e.g., the plastic used for lids is separated from the PET plastic used to make bottles because they are different type of plastics). The flakes are then melted into small pellets, which will be used to make new products.

Chemical recycling, defined by This is Plastics (, is any process by which a polymer is chemically reduced to its original monomer form so that it can eventually be processed (re-polymerized) and remade into new plastic materials that go on to be new plastic product. When an item cannot be recycled mechanically due to colorants, barriers, or multilayers, chemical recycling may be an option.

Where do you fit into all this? When you participate in curbside recycling, your used plastic packaging is sent to a recycling center that either uses mechanical or chemical recycling to produce recycled resin, which is used to make new packaging and other useful products. Your Recycling Counts™ by giving plastics new life again and again!