Recycling plastics - methods and capability

Some kinds of plastic are recyclable if you can separate them from the other kinds of plastic. Waste polythene, which is a kind of plastic, is collected from factories and recycled into small balls which are used as packing materials and in the building industry.

In the USA there is a factory which recycles the plastic containers from "fast food" like hamburgers and hot drinks. The plastic is washed, then melted. It is made into plant pots and other useful things. At the moment, this kind of recycling is expensive. Some people think it is better to burn the plastic to produce energy.
Ordinary people can help to recycle plastics. Some shops have "plastic banks" where customers can leave their old plastic bags. Some shops give customers a few pence for every plastic bag that they bring back. The bags are sent to a factory, where they are recycled.
The French drink a lot of bottled water. Now someone has found a way of recycling the plastic bottles to make sweaters. Each sweater uses twenty-seven bottles. These are melted to produce long, thin fibres, which are then made into fabric. The sweaters will soon be in the shops, but they will not be cheap. This is because it is more expensive to recycle the bottles then to produce new man-made fabrics.

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