What is it about?

Every year, thousands of tons of waste plastic are generated. This adds to the burden of greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming. Plastic is often difficult to recycle. It can sit in landfills for years after being dumped. Instead, we could make the most of our waste by finding solutions that recycle plastic while generating oil or gas. This study checked the effects of mechanical and chemical plastic recycling on the environment. It was found that mechanical sorting and washing garbage created minimum pollution, while waste burning presented the greatest threat to rivers and oceans. Chemical conversion of plastic at high temperatures negatively impacts the atmosphere but is less toxic to aquatic bodies. While this conversion causes lesser emissions, dumping or burning the waste produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases.

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Why is it important?

Chemical recycling is expensive and involves high operational costs. The useful products it produces, however, generate a lot of profit. This makes it a more revenue generating process. On the other hand, methods that are cheaper but not productive are often less desired. Many hidden costs such as those of waste transport can increase the overall cost of recycling. If used on a larger scale, however, the value of plastic waste tends to increase, making chemical recycling an attractive approach. This could solve our problem of plastic pollution. KEY TAKEAWAY: Chemical recycling of plastic waste is the most beneficial of all the methods reviewed in this study. If used strategically, it may reduce the impact of global warming in a profitable and sustainable manner.

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This page is a summary of: Waste Polypropylene Plastic Recycling toward Climate Change Mitigation and Circular Economy: Energy, Environmental, and Technoeconomic Perspectives, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, October 2020, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c06311.
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