Shredder produces micro- plastic


Since I began shredding with my machine, I noticed something very annoying: Shredding produces micro plastic flakes. In specialized literature about plastic recycling, I also stumbled across this topic, so the big boys seem to have problems with that too.

The cons of very small plastic flakes:
-They easily get statically charged and then fly everywhere (also into your mouth, lungs, etc., which makes it also dangerous for people working with plastic.
– When washing, the small flakes can get into ground water, because they fit through the smallest holes (sieves, meshes,…)

That’s things we do not want when recycling plastic.

I originally wanted to wash my shredded plastic in the washing machine in a wash bag but wanted to be sure and washed the first bunch in a wash bag by hand. In the attached pictures you can see what I filtered out of the remaining water, even though the holes in the bag are reeeally tiny… 🙁

The solution however may be not too difficult.
The reason why these micro flakes get so tiny in the first place, is because of the sieve underneath the shredder. when a plastic flake gets stuck in the mesh, the teeth of the shredder come over and over again and sheer over the plastic. That is when micro particles are being created.
The specialized literature says that this can be fixed by making conical holes, that are bigger on the outside than on the inside, so once a piece makes it halfway through, it slips through the rest too. That seems to be working, otherwise they wouldn’t recommend this in multiple books about that topic.
I didn’t give it a try yet and it seems to be some good amount of work drilling all the holes into conical holes while not making them bigger, but it seems worth trying! 😉
I won’t have the time anytime soon, but if you have tried it or have a different idea, please share it in a reply! 🙂


Good topic @flo-2, I recognised the same thing and I agree that it’s an important issue to solve.
No solution handy for that yet, but I am curious about ideas to come!

Wow! It’s been 6 months since I last logged in!

I bought a Guppy Friend washing bag. It’s a really fine mesh that feels like silk to touch. But I didn’t find it collected much. Either my clothes didn’t have any fluff (difficult to believe) or it just didn’t work very well! Or I couldn’t see the collected fluff. The bag was also quite small. Good idea though I’m not sure how effective it is.

You can still use the microfibres in the process right? If molten, it is the same material as the shreds.

I’am now working on the process of shredding and washing and the microplastics are my concern as well. Maybe the guppyfriend is a bit too expensive in some countries.
During some research for my graduation I did found the filter capabilities of sari cloth (textile used mainly in India, Bangladesh etc).
The cloth is able to filter cholera, so I think it is also a good alternative for using as a shredded plastic container while washing the shreds.

Also cleaning the shredder is pretty difficult without wasting/spreading the small dust

You (we) would need to be very precautious with changing bag & cleaning well the schredder setup before changing plastic type; but indeed, the micro plastic can be processed as regular plastic, the polymers should be the same in macro & micro state?

I wonder if Guppyfriend’s washing bag material could be produced (using waste plastic of course!) and made into filters for the waste water pipe on washing machines?
Manufacturers could add the filters, or people could retrofit their own.

What would one do with the collected microfibres though?

@katharinaelleke Nice! Should work,thanks for the research! 🙂

Now look at that, @flo-2, just found out about one possible solution today: The GUPPYFRIEND Washing Bag – captures those microfibers that break during washing, so should also work for washing crushed plastic, right? 🙂

Interesting problem there. The obvious answer to breathing in the dust would be to have watter running over the shredder blades… other than that, countersinking the holes seems to be the best i can think of atm