Polymeric waste materials should be considered resources for the manufacture of new products through recycling processes, with a similar status to virgin fossil-based plastics and biopolymers from renewable resources. Several efforts can be made to achieve this qualitative quantum leap in plastics recycling, and consequently introduce recycled products, with competitive performance, to the market. Scientific knowledge about the degradation processes during the life cycle and the development of fast and reliable analytical methods for the quality assessment of recycled plastics are fundamental to guarantee their performance in new applications. Different strategies—restabilisation, rebuilding, compatibilisation, and addition of elastomers and fillers—can be used to upgrade the structure and properties of polymeric waste streams. This review discusses recent developments in the mechanical recycling of plastics, focusing on how to produce quality materials from waste streams and, thus, contribute to a sustainable management of resources and energy.
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