Frontiers in Sustainability – Sustainable Chemical Process Design
In 2018, the United States generated over 35. 7 million tons of plastic waste, with only 8.4% being recycled and the other 91.6% incinerated or disposed of in a landfill. The continued growth of the polymer market has raised concerns over the end of life of plastics. Currently, the waste management system is faced with issues of inefficient sorting methods and low-efficiency recycling methods when it comes to plastics recycling. Mechanical recycling is the commonest recycling method but presents a lower-valued recycled material due to the material incompatibilities introduced via the inefficient sorting methods. Chemical recycling offers a promising alternative as it potentially allows for plastics to maintain their original properties. To that end, there is the need to investigate feasible chemical recycling methods to help mitigate the challenging problem posed by plastics at the end-of-life stage. This work proposes a conceptual solvent-assisted plastics recycling framework based on a superstructure optimization approach. This framework is evaluated using a representative case study to recover Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). In this case study, it is found that polymer recovery is both economically and environmentally favorable when compared to traditional methods of disposal such as incineration.
Lehr AL, Heider KL, Aboagye EA, Chea JD, Stengel JP, Benavides PT and Yenkie KM (2022) Design of solvent-assisted plastics recycling: Integrated economics and environmental impacts analysis. Frontiers in Sustainability: Sustainable Chemical Process Design 3:989720. doi: 10.3389/frsus.2022.989720
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