A Low Cost Solution for Recycling K-Cups and Reducing the Problem of Waste Plastic in American Landfills
AIChE Annual Meeting
Monday, November 14, 2016 - 10:00am to 12:30pm
Shelby Browning and Jeffrey Seay, Ph.D., PE and Derek Englert, Ph.D., PE
University of Kentucky College of Engineering Paducah Extended Campus
As the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) continues to increase in our environment, it is vital that new, more effective methods of converting this solid waste into useful substances be implemented. There are many industrial processes for transforming MSW, but there is no current process for transforming the plastic coffee pods known as K-Cups. K-Cups are made with a variety of plastic, one of which is known as number seven plastic. These K-Cups have a layered plastic design, making it near impossible for major recycling plants to use them. These two factors make it difficult to convert K-Cups effectively into useful substances. By utilizing a low-cost, easy to use processor developed by the University of Kentucky Appropriate Technology and Sustainability (UKATS) research team, K-Cups can be converted into an energy-dense fuel oil. Through this process, the amount of unwanted waste plastic, in the form of K-Cups, taking up space in landfills and harming the environment can be greatly diminished.