Come have lunch each week with young researchers from EPIC at this interdisciplinary lunch and learn series. This week will feature “Plastics Recycling: From a Downward Spiral to a Closed Loop” by Sam Marsden.
Plastic products are nearly everywhere in modern society due to offering lightweight, durable, and customizable materials at a fraction of the cost of their competitors. Unfortunately, they also have a large environmental impact as the majority are either discarded to landfills or end up as pollutants, taking decades to degrade. A smaller portion of plastic waste is incinerated, an even smaller portion is recycled, and of the recycled potion almost none is recycled more than once. The current majority of recycling is mechanical recycling, which produces products with significantly worsened properties, however there is a growing field for chemical recycling, which allows plastic products to return to virgin-like properties, but is limited in its availability. In this talk I will go through the different types of commercial plastics and how they are different, discuss current end-of-life management, and explain the work that myself and other researchers are doing in the field to move towards a greener tomorrow.