How can we help reduce plastic waste? Facilitating the use of recycled plastics using in-mold sensors to optimize the injection molding process

画像: 資源循環を加速するIoT金型を活用した射出成形プロセスの最適化(英語)

According to Statista, humans produce nearly 300 million metric tons of plastic waste each year[1] and according to a prediction model announced by the University of Leeds, if this waste is not properly managed, then there will be 1.3 billion tons of plastic waste in the environment by 2040.[2] That’s a lot of plastic, and plastic wasted.

Plastics as a material has many benefits but as waste, it is a global challenge that requires a holistic approach if we are to realize a sustainable society within planetary boundaries. And, according to the OECD, less that 10% of plastics used around the world is being recycled. [3] So what can we do to facilitate the re-use/recycling of plastics; make the most out of what we have, and to reduce our need for virgin plastics and our dependence on this fossil-fuel based material.

My colleagues and I have been looking at how we can improve the quality of recycled plastics. Most of the plastics around us are manufactured using what we call an injection molding process. In the injection molding process, an injection molding machine is used to melt raw materials, called pellets, which are then injected into a mold and allowed to cool and solidify to produce plastic.


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