Post-industrial Plastic: What Is It and Why Does Seraphim Care?

Here on our website, we discuss the different types of plastics we purchase. We sometimes refer to those plastics as ‘post-industrial’. The term may not mean much to individuals and organizations that are not involved in the recycling game. To us, it means a lot.

Post-industrial plastic is part of a much broader category of materials classified as post-industrial waste. The key to understanding the terms is to dissect them.

‘Post’ and ‘Industrial’

Attaching the ‘post’ prefix to a word indicates ‘after’ rather than ‘before’. The term ‘post-war’ means ‘after the war’. Therefore, post-industrial plastics and post-industrial waste are generated after some type of industrial process or application.

The term ‘industrial’ simply refers to commercial or industrial applications as opposed to residential or municipal. Residential plastics would be things like plastic food containers, single-use plastic water bottles, etc. The same holds true for municipal plastics.

Industrial plastics are those utilized by manufacturers, warehousing operations, and the like. So when we put the two terms together, we understand that post-industrial plastics are discarded plastics that were once used in warehouses and manufacturing operations.

Why It Matters to Us

Post-industrial plastics matter to us because we recycle them. If you look across our website, you will notice several places in which we make it clear that we do not recycle household plastic products. We don’t collect the plastics that belong in your municipal curbside recycling bin.

Our recycling process is not set up to accept those types of plastics. These require extensive sorting and cleaning before they can be recycled. On the other hand, post-industrial plastics can go directly from warehouse to recycling center with very little needed in between.

A Typical Recycling Scenario

Seraphim Plastics operates in seven states: Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, and Ohio. A typical recycling scenario would have us buy a load of post-industrial plastic from a customer in one of the states. Let’s say we purchased a load of plastic pallets from an Arkansas customer.

Because those pallets are not mixed with any other type of plastic, no sorting is necessary. We also don’t have to clean the pallets because they do not come in contact with excessive volumes of contaminants. We can load them onto a truck, ship them to our processing center, and recycle them right away.

Recycling is a matter of sending the pallets through a series of grinders that reduce them to pellet size. We then run the pellets through a series of machines to remove metal pieces and any other solid materials that might have been in the plastic. That’s it. Then it is off to packaging to prepare the regrind for shipping.

Household Plastics Require More Effort

Household plastics, or post-consumer plastics if you will, require a lot more effort to recycle. Your municipal recycling center employs staff whose job is to manually sort recyclable products from the inevitable trash that gets mixed in. Plastics also have to be sorted by type.

From there, the materials have to be shipped to a recycling center where they are first cleaned. Further sorting might also be necessary. Only after all that can the actual recycling take place. No wonder so much of the plastic collected through curbside programs eventually ends up in a landfill!

We deal in post-industrial plastic because it is easy to recycle and there is strong demand for recycled plastic regrind. With that in mind, your post-industrial plastic is important to us. If you are located in any of the states we service, we would appreciate the opportunity to purchase your plastic scrap at a fair price. Contact us for more information.

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