(629d) A Generic Scenario Analysis of End-of-Life Plastic Management Concerning Chemical Additive Releases | AIChE

(629d) A Generic Scenario Analysis of End-of-Life Plastic Management Concerning Chemical Additive Releases


Chea, J. - Presenter, Rowan University
Lehr, A., Rowan University
Yenkie, K., Rowan University
Stanzione, J. III, Rowan University
Ruiz-Mercado, G., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Plastic demands and production have considerably increased the quantity of spent plastics, out of which over 90% is either landfilled or incinerated. Both methods for handling spent plastics are susceptible to releasing toxic substances that negatively affect air, water, soil, organisms, and public health. Therefore, improvements to the existing infrastructure for plastics management are needed to limit chemical additives release and exposure resulting from the end-of-life (EoL) stage of plastics. This work aims to develop generic EoL management scenarios to track and estimate the potential migration and releases of plastics additives throughout the plastics EoL stage and develop a software tool to evaluate the impacts of various plastics EoL processing techniques (mechanical recycling, incineration, and landfilling) on greenhouse gas emissions, energy footprint, and subsequent environmental releases. The current infrastructure and hypothetical scenarios involving enhanced recycling methods were analyzed. The major releases and emissions for every stage in the EoL phase were quantified, identifying considerable risks to workers and the environment. Subsequently, a python-based software tool was developed to provide insights into the impacts of various plastic recycling techniques. The potential hazards and risks identified in this research create an opportunity to design a safer closed-loop plastics recycling infrastructure to handle chemical additives strategically and support implementing sustainable materials management efforts to transform the U.S. plastics economy from linear to circular.


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