Sustainable Plastics Recycling in a Global Context - General Framing and a Case Study on Recyclate Quality
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Polymer Meeting 14
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
While there is growing awareness for the challenges in terms of recyclate quality and poor physical properties of post-consumer recyclates, the global dimensions and societal implications of plastics recycling are often overlooked, in particular in polymer science and engineering debates. We have recently suggested to use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a comprehensive benchmarking framework for truly sustainable plastics recycling. Introducing three thematic SDG-Nexus-Clusters, we found that the issue of waste picking and informal plastic recycling in developing countries is at the very core of the Recycling-Development-Nexus. There is a need to combine the strive for quality recyclates with ambitions to improve on the social and developmental aspects of the circular plastics economy in a global context. We hence investigated the performance profiles of polyolefin recyclates sourced from waste picking activities in Nairobi, Kenya using a methodological toolkit comprising techniques for both physico-chemical analysis (DSC, TGA, and FTIR microscopic imaging) and engineering property characterization (melt flow rate, tensile, and impact strength testing). While inclusions of foreign polymers and other phases are typical for poorly treated recyclates, we demonstrated that significant improvements in recyclate quality, including a 3-fold increase in notched impact strength (NIS) of rPE-HD, can be achieved through a sophisticated state-of-the art reprocessing workflow.