The innovation engine for new materials

The Technology of Plastic Recycling

Seminar Group: 


Dr. Brian Riise


President & Technical Director,
Sustainable Materials Recovery Group (SuMaRec)


Monday, April 2, 2018 - 11:30am


MRL Room 2053


Prof. Glenn Fredrickson

Less than 10% of the plastics discarded in the US are recovered for recycling, with the remainder (over 30 million tons per year) ending up in landfills.  A large portion of the plastics that are recovered in the US are exported for recycling, though this market has been disrupted by the recent ban on the import of certain waste materials into China.  At the same time that most waste plastics end up in landfills or are exported, consumer products companies in the US often struggle to find a large enough supply of recycled plastics to meet their corporate sustainability targets.  Technologies are available to recycle these waste plastics, and smarter use of these technologies (in combination with increased customer demand and disruptions in export markets) could enable plastic recycling at much higher rates.  In this presentation, we review some of the waste plastic streams and then take a closer look at the technologies available for recycling these plastics.  In particular, we review a number of the existing and emerging technologies available for cleaning, separating, purifying and compounding these waste plastics into high quality pellets suitable for use in new products.