Decontamination and recycling of agrochemical plastic packaging waste
Agrochemical containers shall undergo decontamination before being considered for recycling. This study provides an assessment on the feasibility of the triple-rinsing decontamination procedure, while evaluating the appropriateness of the material's quality for recycling. To achieve the objectives of the study, (1) the effectiveness of the decontamination procedure was investigated; (2) containers´ long storage times and changes on the polymer´s structure were assessed; and (3) the quality of the recycled material was tested. Results showed that the triple-rinsing procedure was ineffective for the container´s complete decontamination, yet a further washing step – performed during the simulation of the recycling process – allowed for an improved degree of decontamination for recycling. Photo-oxidation imposed significant changes on the chemical structure of the polymer, where the active ingredient could be detected by FTIR, even after the application of rinsing and extraction. The chemical structure of the bulk material has not changed, indicating that the pesticide mobilization was only confined to the surface. The mechanical tests showed material quality appropriateness, where tensile strength values were within the suggested ranges, providing a possibility for further utilization of this material when appropriate decontamination is applied.