How to Save Money & the Environment with Recycled Plastics

Using recycled plastic materials offers pipe manufacturers an advantage in terms of cost savings
November 6, 2019
How to Save Money & the Environment with Recycled Plastics

Easy Production of Greener Plastic Pipe 
With plastic pollution becoming an ever growing global problem, it is up to plastic pipe manufacturers to do their part in ensuring production of greener options and making efforts to recycle. Fortunately,  this doesn't mean that manufacturers need to compromise on product quality or spend exorbitant amounts on “green” plastics.

Using recycled plastic materials offers pipe manufacturers an advantage in terms of cost savings on pelletized plastics. However, using recycled plastics is not possible without the proper production equipment for producing  safe and high quality plastic pipe.
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3 Layer Pipe Manufacturing Technology
Three layer pipe technology offers an economical solution for producing layered pipe. This requires manufacturers to use a 3 layer head, which attaches to the primary and secondary pipe extruder, allowing for recycled materials to be included in the pipe production process.

The 3 layer head produces pipe with a center core comprised of recycled material, while the inner or outer layers are produced using virgin raw material. This reduces the use of expensive virgin materials by using lower cost or recycled materials without jeopardizing the integrity and functionality of the manufactured pipe.

Recycled pipe can come in a few different configurations when using a 3 layer head. The two primary configurations for recycled pipe manufacturing are ABA and ABC; each letter refers to a different material/layer used in the pipe.

ABA Configuration
ABA pipe is generally composed of  a raw virgin material “A” for the inner and outer layers of the pipe (10% for each layer), and recycled material “B” which is used for the pipe core (80%). This allows for pipe to be composed primarily of recycled material while having the look, feel and safety of virgin raw pipe.

ABC Configuration
Much like the ABA configuration, the ABC pipe has up to 80% recycled core (B) but the “A” and “C” materials can be different from each other. This allows versatility and control to each layer independently. For example, having a pipe with a distinct outer surface color will allow you to introduce the color only to the outer layer when using ABC configuration, while in ABA, your inner layer would have that color as well. This creates waste of masterbatch color which can be expensive. The same is true when applying UV protection and applying it only to the outer layer which is subject to the sun.

The Different Types of Low Cost Recycled Materials

There are a number of different types of recycled materials; below is a breakdown of a few different options available on the market.

Self made scrap: Every plastic pipe factory produces a certain amount of scrap product that is frequently discarded. Manufacturers who can repelletize scrap material can return the pellets  to the manufacturing process and save money by making use of scrap pipe.

Purchased recycled materials: Recycled or repelletize materials are available at a fraction of the cost from recycling plants all around the world. A 3 layer head allows the use of such materials in the pipe production process, as another way of reducing material costs.

Off spec materials: The plastics industry regularly produces off-spec or off-grade plastics. These are normally found during the startup of the production at the plastic manufacturing facilities until process stabilizes. Such lower grade plastic is sold at a much lower cost compared to virgin material, and can readily be put to use in manufacturing plastic pipe when using 3 layer head technology.

Additional Benefits of a 3 Layer Head
The 3 layer  head can also work with the addition of colored stripes on the outer pipe layer, allowing for product categorization, quick visual identification and market differentiation. Multiple configurations are available for handling various sizes and types of plastic pipe, making the 3 layer head easy to integrate or retrofit in existing extruder machines, ensuring ongoing cost savings on raw materials for every minute of operation during the plastic pipe manufacturing process.

The 3 layer head’s operation is best complemented by a gravimetric feeder system, assuring steady and continuous feeding of the extruder and ensuring consistency. The gravimetric system controls the precise thickness of each layer in order to assure proper pipe structure. This results in pipe produced within specification and having the same material consistency throughout despite the use of recycled or off-spec materials.

Using recycled materials can give plastic pipe manufacturers unique products while allowing them to save money on material, all without compromising the quality and integrity of their product.

So, whether you are already operating or considering a pipe production facility, DRTS can support you in optimizing or setting up your plastic pipe manufacturing operation. Contact a DRTS representative to discover custom solutions tailored to your needs and budget.

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