As petroleum polymeric materials, made from fossil oil, plastics are supposed to be reused, repaired and/or recycled several times before losing their original characteristics. However, the addition of chemicals as additives to increase their durability or flexibility, affect the recyclability and consequently market demand for recycled products. The presence of some of toxic and hazardous additive chemicals is of great concern regarding their use and application in new recycled plastic products.
Understanding to what extent Norway, one of the largest waste-producing countries per capita, contributes to this global problem, is the main objective of the PLASTCYC project. By using Norwegian national status-quo data on the consumption and disposal of different types of plastics, the scientists involved in PLASTCYC will map the stock and flow of plastics from use to waste in Norway. Considering various additive chemicals that are applied in different plastic types, PLASTCYC will map the flow of these chemicals from consumer products to waste. Later, those that are of concern regarding reappearance in recycled products will be identified.
PLASTCYC will provide a comprehensive overview of the fate of different plastic types and additive chemicals in the waste stream. We will also provide solutions for optimizing plastic waste management by coupling scientific findings with information and knowledge of industrial partners, municipalities, and waste management companies across Norway.
Despite the exponential growth of plastic production and consumption, the quantity of plastic waste being processed in a sound manner grows linearly. Today, recycling of plastic waste is considered as the most practical solution to maintain these materials in the closed loop of Circular Economy. However, the presence of hazardous chemicals as additives and/or contaminants prevents the recycling of a large quantity of plastics mainly due to the concerns regarding the unintended recycling of hazardous chemicals and the quality of recycled plastics. The mismanagement of plastic waste leads to the leakage of these materials to the marine environment. The solutions to this global problem must first address the management of plastic waste regionally, which requires thorough understanding of the quantity and quality of in-use plastics and their flows to the waste stream. The overarching goal of this project is to provide solutions to reduce plastics in the global environment. Towards this, PLASTCYC will provide a qualitative and quantitative analysis of plastic consumption and flows to the waste stream in Norway. By incorporating the knowledge and expertise of the waste stakeholders in Norway to the scientific findings, recommendation for best practices to optimize recycling while minimizing the recycling of hazardous chemicals will be provided. PLASTCYC is directly addressing SDG12 on sustainable production and consumption by providing solutions that will directly lead to reduction of our environmental footprint.