Post-consumer plastic waste obtained via mechanical recycling is usually applied in thick-walled products, because of the low mechanical strength due to the presence of contaminants. In fact, sorted post-consumer isotactic poly(propylene) (i-PP) can be considered as a blend of 95% i-PP and 5% poly(ethylene), with traces of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). By applying a treatment such as solid-state drawing (SSD) after melt extrusion, the polymer chains can be oriented in one direction, thereby improving the stiffness and tensile strength. In this research, molecular processes such as crystal break-up and chain orientation of these complex blends were monitored as a function of draw ratio. The melt filter mesh size - used to exclude rigid PET particles - and the addition of carbon black (CB) - often added for coloration in the recycling industry - were varied to investigate their influence on the SSD process. This research shows that despite the blend complexity, the molecular processes during SSD compare to virgin i-PP and that similar draw ratios can be obtained (λmax = 20), albeit at reduced stiffness and strength as a result of the foreign polymers present in post-consumer i-PP. It is observed that the process stability improves with decreasing mesh size and that higher draw ratios can be obtained. The addition of carbon black, which resides in the dispersed PE phase, also stabilizes the SSD process. Compared to isotropic post-consumer i-PP, the stiffness can be improved by a factor 10 to over 11 GPa, while the tensile strength can be improved by a factor 15-385 MPa, which is approx. 70% of the maximum tensile strength achieved for virgin i-PP.
- Mechanical properties
- Structure-property relationships