It is best to avoid packaging waste altogether. If that is not possible, we should reduce, separate and recycle the waste as much as possible. To do this, we throw plastic packaging waste into specific garbage cans. During subsequent recycling, the different types must first be separated. But what types of plastic are there? And how does the separation process work?
What are the different types of plastic and how can they be separated?
You will need
- A collection of empty plastic packaging
- Small pieces of plastic made of PET, PE, PS and PVC materials
- Drinking glass
- Table salt
Let’s get started!
1. Collect and identify plastic packaging
Collect some plastic packaging made of different types of plastic. Look for the recycling symbols and the abbreviations for plastic types on the plastic packaging. The abbreviation for the type of plastic is always under a recycling symbol. Write down the different abbreviations you find.
2. Cut plastic packaging into pieces
Search for the plastic types "PET", "HDPE or "PE", "PP", "PS" and "PVC". Then take a piece of each type and cut a few small pieces from it.
3. Does it float or sink?
Plastic floats on water, right? Investigate the floating behavior of the different types of plastic that you have found.
Fill a glass with water. Immerse the first piece of plastic completely in the water and let it go. Observe what happens: Does it float or sink to the bottom? Test each type and write down whether it floats or sinks.
You’ve learned which type of plastic sinks in pure tap water and which floats on top of the water. What happens if you change the properties of the water by gradually adding salt? Fill a glass with water and add pieces of PET, PE, PS and PVC plastic. Now add a small spoonful of table salt and stir everything briefly. Wait a little while until the water has settled. Repeat this four more times so that you have added a total of five spoonfuls of salt. What has happened?