ESTISURF® in cleaners for the recycling industry

The polymer recycling industry is just one example of a rapidly developing business in the recycling sector. Below descriptions & technologies using ESTISURF® may also be applied in other recycling industries.


In the polymer recycling industry, cleaning agents play a crucial role in ensuring that the recycled materials meet the quality standards necessary for their reuse. The process of recycling polymers involves several steps, including collection, sorting, washing, shredding, melting, and reprocessing. Each of these steps can involve contamination that must be addressed to produce high-quality recycled polymers.

Cleaning agents are employed to remove contaminants such as dirt, labels, adhesives, oils, and residues from the collected plastic waste. Here's a detailed explanation of the use of cleaning agents in polymer recycling, covering their types, functions, and importance in the process.

Types of cleaning agents:

Detergents and Surfactants:

  • These are the most common cleaning agents used in polymer recycling. They reduce the surface tension of water, allowing it to wet the plastic surface more effectively and loosen contaminants.
  • Surfactants can be anionic, cationic, nonionic, or amphoteric, each with specific applications based on the type of contamination and the polymer being cleaned.
  • We offer a wide range of ESTISURF® surfactants for the application in cleaning agents & detergents.
Polymer recycling - a lot of products

Alkaline Cleaners:

  • These cleaners contain alkaline substances such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. They are effective in removing organic contaminants, oils, and greases.
  • Alkaline cleaners are particularly useful for cleaning PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) as they can saponify fatty residues, making them easier to wash away.
  • We offer a wide range of ESTISURF® surfactants  for application in alkaline cleaners. The ESTISURF® surfactants may be single-components or multi-component, optimized combination for easy & quick formulation work.

Acidic Cleaners:

  • Acidic cleaners, such as citric acid or acetic acid solutions, are used to remove inorganic contaminants and mineral deposits.
  • We offer a wide range of ESTISURF® surfactants  for application in acidic cleaners. The ESTISURF® surfactants may be single-components or multi-component, optimized combination for easy & quick formulation work.

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Functions of cleaning agents:

Polymer recycling process

Contaminant Removal & Enhancing Process Efficiency:

  • The primary function of cleaning agents is to remove contaminants that can interfere with the recycling process. These contaminants include dirt, dust, grease, oils, adhesives, labels, and food residues.
  • Effective contaminant removal ensures that the recycled polymer has a composition and purity close to that of virgin material.

Improving Product Quality:

  • Clean materials process more efficiently through shredding, melting, and reprocessing equipment. Contaminants can clog or damage machinery, leading to downtime and increased maintenance costs.
  • Cleaning agents help to minimize these issues by ensuring that the materials entering the processing stages are as clean as possible.

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Importance of cleaning agents in polymer recycling

Environmental Impact:

  • Proper cleaning of polymer waste reduces the environmental impact of recycling operations. Clean recycled polymers can replace virgin materials, reducing the need for new plastic production and conserving natural resources.

Regulatory Compliance:

  • Recycling facilities must comply with regulations and standards set by governmental and international bodies regarding the quality of recycled materials.
  • Cleaning agents assist in achieving compliance by ensuring that the recycled polymers are free from hazardous contaminants and meet the required purity levels.
Regulations about enviromental polymer recycling

Economic Viability:

  • The economic success of polymer recycling depends on the ability to produce high-quality recycled material that can be sold at a competitive price.
  • Cleaning agents contribute to this by improving the yield and quality of the recycled polymers, making the recycling process more cost-effective and profitable.

Customer Satisfaction:

  • End-users of recycled polymers demand materials that perform reliably in their applications. Contaminants can compromise the performance of recycled polymers, leading to customer dissatisfaction and potential financial losses.
  • Ensuring that recycled polymers are thoroughly cleaned enhances customer confidence in recycled materials, promoting their wider adoption.

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