16 February 2022
Webinar: Plastics Recycling
Plastics and their derived composites have undoubtedly allowed for the technological achievements of today. Their versatile nature with many favourable properties lead to their exponential boom in utilisation and subsequent increase of their global annual production from 2 million tonnes (Mt) in 1950 to 390 Mt in 2020. It has been estimated that approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics have been produced since the 1950’s, out of which approximately 9% have been recycled, 12% have been incinerated and over 60% have been sent to landfill or leaked to the environment. Unfortunately, the very properties (lightweight, durable, ageing and corrosion resistant) that led to their high utilisation have also resulted in devastating environmental impacts.
Plastic pollution has become a significant threat to the environment with up to 13million tonnes of plastic waste leaking into the ocean every year. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fishes. In addition, the resources required for their production, the associated carbon footprint and the material value lost every year, have called governments and industry to take action. The reduction and/or banning of single-use plastics, the introduction of a plastics tax setting a minimum requirement of recycled content and the increase of material recycling and reuse are a good start however much more needs to be done.
Plastics recycling in the last five years has reached greater yields, with mechanical recycling as the main processing method. The issue of downcycling (reduction of material quality), has not been properly addressed and eventually will lead to the landfilling or incineration of recycled plastics. To ensure a larger lifecycle, higher utilisation of recyclates and guarantees on material performance, the combination of techniques, such as chemical recycling is necessary.
To address this, TWI’s Polymer and Composite (PCT) group, through its plastic recycling theme has developed methods for better plastics management, and combinational recycling technologies that allows for product upcycling or circular reuse.
Join this webinar to hear about the rising technologies for plastics recycling.
George V. Theodosopoulos MSc, PhD
Senior Project Leader, Technology Polymer & Composite Technologies Group
George is a member of the NIC’s technical expert staff, supporting NIC associate members, providing solutions and innovative proposals as well as managing projects of the NIC.
Holding a B.Sc. in Chemistry, a M.Sc. in Polymer Science and Applications and a Ph.D. in Macromolecular Chemistry, George has a strong background in polymer synthesis, applications and processing techniques. Having practiced the property manipulation of polymers through their predefined structural orientation, he has acquired a good understanding on the effect of intrinsic material properties and chemistry of the monomer units on the behaviour and long-term effect polymer systems in selected environments.
George joined TWI and the NIC in February 2019 as a Project Leader in the Novel Polymer Technology (NPT) section of TWI’s Polymer and Composite Technology (PCT) group. He is also the group’s polymer recycling and sustainability theme leader.