(365b) Plastic Waste Accumulation Problem and Emerging Solutions
AIChE Annual Meeting
Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 12:55pm to 1:20pm
Polyolefin waste accounts for about 63% of the total accumulated plastic waste. About $100 billion of post-consumer polyolefin products are consigned to landfills annually. Converting polyolefin waste into useful products can reduce the accumulated waste and associated risk to the environment. In this study we compare incineration, which is the most mature technology of reducing plastic waste, with two emerging solutions, converting polyolefin waste into (1) pristine polymers or (2) clean fuels. The results show that both solutions potentially are more profitable than incineration. Sorted polyolefin waste can be converted into pristine polymers with the highest potential profit. Mixed polyolefin waste can be converted into clean fuels with the second highest profit. The supplies of the sorted waste, however, are limited presently. Developing more efficient sorting technologies or changing the current waste management system to collect more sorted polyolefin waste should have a major positive impact on reducing the polyolefin waste accumulation.