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Storage and handling

If you are setting up your own independent recyclables collection for plastics, once you have collected them you will need to prepare them for transportation to market. This often requires on-site storage until a sufficient quantity of plastic has been collected to make shipment economical.

The method of storage and preparation for shipment will depend on the material and the form in which the reprocessor is willing to accept it. The table below provides a rough guide to the form in which certain types of material are generally shipped. It is always a good idea to check this with the reprocessor however.

Form in which material is generally shipped (Please note, these are guidelines only)

Application Form
Bottles Compacted (Baled)
Plastic Film Compacted (Baled), or in rolls or reels
EPS Compacted
Rigid Plastic (e.g. crates, containers) Stacked, palletised, boxed, bagged, loose or in cages depending on application
Lump (production scrap) Bagged, boxed, loose or in cages
Flexible Plastic (e.g. cable sheathing, strapping) Bagged, boxed, loose or in cages, depending on application

There are often two types of on-site storage needs associated with plastic recovery programmes at most businesses. The first is interim storage of loose or bagged materials prior to preparation, and the second is storage of prepared material until a suitable quantity for transport has been reached.

Often the main challenge of introducing a plastic recovery scheme is finding adequate storage space material prior to transport. This can be especially challenging when collecting film, bottles, or EPS, as adequate storage space is required to accumulate enough material for a single bale.

This problem can be addressed either through:

- Strategic design of an interim storage area, adequate for the minimum quantity of each material type necessary to make a bale of sufficient weight; or

- The use of a dedicated baling device, so that material can be stored in the chamber as it is accumulated.

If you do not have access to a compactor and do not wish to purchase one, it may be possible to loan one from a recycler if you have sufficiently large quantities of plastics available. Failing this it is worth contacting a local waste management company to enquire whether they might be willing to collect and bale material.

Floorspace represents a cost premium in nearly all business environments and many businesses simply cannot afford the space required to store material on-site. As a result, materials often end up being stored outside until an adequate quantity can be accumulated for transport. This is especially problematic where plastic films are concerned, as it usually results in degradation from moisture or sunlight. A low-cost solution to this problem is the use of dry-van trailers or containers for on-site storage.

If you're setting up a scheme for a number of businesses you will need to establish a facility to which the plastics can be taken for storage and bulking after they have been collected.

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