Physico-chemical properties of excavated plastic from landfill mining and current recycling routes

In Europe over 5.25 billion tonnes of waste has been landfilled between 1995 and 2015. Among this large amount of waste, plastic represents typically 5-25?wt% which is significant and has the potential to be recycled and reintroduced into the circular economy. To date there is still however little information available of the opportunities and challenges in recovering plastics from landfill sites. In this review, the impacts of landfill chemistry on the degradation and/or contamination of excavated plastic waste are analysed. The feasibility of using excavated plastic waste as feedstock for upcycling to valuable chemicals or liquid fuels through thermochemical conversion is also critically discussed. The limited degradation that is experienced by many plastics in landfills (>20?years) which guarantee that large amount is still available is largely due to thermooxidative degradation and the anaerobic conditions. However, excavated plastic waste cannot be conventionally recycled due to high level of ash, impurities and heavy metals. Recent studies demonstrated that pyrolysis offers a cost effective alternative option to conventional recycling. The produced pyrolysis oil is expected to have similar characteristics to petroleum diesel oil. The production of valuable product from excavated plastic waste will also increase the feasibility of enhanced landfill mining projects. However, further studies are needed to investigate the uncertainties about the contamination level and degradation of excavated plastic waste and address their viability for being processed through pyrolysis.

Authors: Canopoli L, Fidalgo B, Coulon F, Wagland ST. ; Full Source: Waste Management. 2018 Apr 2. pii: S0956-053X(18)30185-5. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2018.03.043. [Epub ahead of print]

Posted in Uncategorized