Plastics and Rubber Recycling Services

Increasingly, manufacturers are being encouraged to adopt environmentally aware practices and to use materials produced from recyclate to improve sustainability. Finding a cost effective and commercially viable route is of paramount importance for companies to be successful.

Smithers Rapra offers support to utilise a variety of recycled plastics in the manufacture of both food and non-food contact products. We also work with companies to assist them in using waste rubber, either in the devulcanised form or as rubber crumb, in the manufacture of new rubber products.

We provide specialist analytical and consultancy support for both recycled food contact products and waste rubber recycling.

Food Contact Products from Recycled Materials

For companies wanting to use recyclate for Food Contact products, Smithers Rapra provides full service support with: 

  • Regulatory Guidance
  • Bespoke Test Programme Development and Test Sample Production
  • Chemical Analysis
  • Test Sample Production

Regulatory Guidance

Across the globe there are a range of regulations in place to ensure that Food Contact materials are safe for intended use. However, using recycled plastics for Food Contact applications has additional risks which need to be considered:

  • Contaminants from non-food approved plastic in input stream
  • Contaminants from previous use (including possible misuse)
  • Chemicals used in the recycling process itself
  • Degradation products caused by multiple processing

Smithers Rapra can advise on the various requirements of corresponding regulations, and help you navigate the additional requirements for recycled plastics.

Contact our experts >

Bespoke Test Programme Development

Legislative demands and material choices both determine the types of testing needed on recycled plastics. Our expert team can work with you to develop a custom test programme based on your individual needs, and advise on the optimum process.

Chemical Analysis

Our comprehensive laboratory facilities are well-equipped for the chemical analysis of recyclate materials intended for Food Contact use. We can:

  • Undertake migration studies on your material to test whether it passes migration test requirements, i.e. the overall migration limit (OML) and any specific migration limits (SMLs)
  • Assess the Food Contact compliance of materials produced from recyclate, to ensure any contaminants have been successfully removed during the recycling process

Test Sample Production

Our experienced technologists can assist with the preparation of test samples for both plastics and rubbers. Processing techniques for plastics include compounding, cast sheet extrusion and injection moulding.  For rubbers we have an internal mix, two-roll mills, compression moulding and cure assessment.

Waste Rubber: Recycling and Re-use

In order to be useful, waste rubber requires:

  • Low levels of contaminants (such as steel and fabric).
  • Low levels of other rubbers (to ensure good compatibility with matrix).
  • Consistent particle size and size distribution when in the form of crumb
  • Good processability when devulcanised
  • Properties that enable manufacture of high quality articles

Over the past few years, new devulcanisation and recycling technologies have been developed and commercialised that incorporate the above factors. These have enabled new products to be developed from reprocessed waste rubber. These new techniques include the following technologies:

  • Ultrasonic
  • Thermo-mechanical-high shear processes (e.g. using an extruder)
  • Chemical agents acting as 'chemical bullets' to remove cross-links
  • Microwaves
  • Biological  agents

Research Projects

Smithers Rapra has been involved in several UK and European multi-partner research projects developing processes and testing methodologies for the recycling of plastics and rubbers into high quality, high value products – giving us a valuable insight into cutting edge developments in polymer recycling. 

Contact our experts >