Special Issue "Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste"

A special issue of Recycling (ISSN 2313-4321).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Michele John
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sustainable Engineering Group, Curtin University, Perth, WA 6845, Australia
Interests: resource recovery, sustainable materials; green manufacturing; transformation of waste collection, mining and agricultural waste value adding
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Wan-Ting (Grace) Chen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Plastics Engineering, UMass Lowell Francis College of Engineering, MA 01854, USA
Interests: chemical recycling; microplastics; biodegradable materials; ocean plastic waste; hydrothermal processing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

More than eight billion tons of plastic waste has accumulated worldwide over the past 50 years. The majority (80%) of the waste goes directly into landfills and 3% ends up in the oceans. At the current rate, we are heading towards more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Plastics are persistent in the environment and degrade slowly (over a century), releasing fragments, microplastics, and toxic chemicals into our environment.

The overall goal of this Special Issue is to shed light on the area of plastic waste recycling. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to) advanced mechanical recycling, chemical recycling, biodegradable plastic material development, microplastic characterization/mitigation, characterization advancement for plastic waste, and recycling policy analysis.

Prof. Dr. Michele John
Dr. Wan-Ting (Grace) Chen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Recycling is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Mechanical recycling
  • Chemical recycling
  • Plastic waste
  • Microplastics
  • Plastic additives

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
An Empirical Study on the Main Determinants of Recycling Plastic Waste in Tunisia
Recycling 2022, 7(1), 1; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling7010001 - 06 Jan 2022
Viewed by 141
Abstract
Over the past fifteen years, numerous policies for recycling and recovering waste have been implemented throughout the world. Tunisia is among the countries considering recycling as a sustainable development path. This empirical study aimed to investigate and examine the influence of financial determinants [...] Read more.
Over the past fifteen years, numerous policies for recycling and recovering waste have been implemented throughout the world. Tunisia is among the countries considering recycling as a sustainable development path. This empirical study aimed to investigate and examine the influence of financial determinants measured by the price of waste disposal (PDI), institutional determinants measured by the collection of waste (CW) and the number of drop-off recycling centers, and ordinance and demographic determinants measured by the population density and the recycling rate for plastic as a domestic waste based on a panel of 24 Tunisian governorates over the 2001–2020 period. It is concluded from the empirical findings that all exogenous variables except population density have a significant effect on the recycling rate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
Assessment of Biodegradation and Eco-Toxic Properties of Novel Starch and Gelatine Blend Bioplastics
Recycling 2021, 6(4), 81; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6040081 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 414
Abstract
To combat the release of petroleum-derived plastics into the environment the European Commission has adopted the EU plastics strategy, which aims for a complete ban on single-use plastics by 2030. Environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging like bioplastic is being up taken at significant [...] Read more.
To combat the release of petroleum-derived plastics into the environment the European Commission has adopted the EU plastics strategy, which aims for a complete ban on single-use plastics by 2030. Environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging like bioplastic is being up taken at significant levels by companies and consumers. In this study, the environmental impact of novel gelatine–starch blend bioplastics is investigated. The assessments included ecotoxicology with different species that can be found in marine and soil environments to simulate natural conditions. Microalgae, plant, and nematode species were chosen as these are representative of their habitats and are known for their sensitivity to pollutants. Degradation rates of these novel bioplastics were assessed as well as microbiome analysis of the soil before and after bioplastic degradation. The main findings of this study are that (i) the bioplastic generated can be fully biodegraded in soil environments at moderate conditions (20 °C) leaving no physical traces; (ii) bioplastic did not exhibit significantly adverse effects on any organisms assessed in this study; (iii) microbiome analysis of the soil after biodegradation showed a decrease in alpha diversity and a significant increase of Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla, which were dominative in the soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
Purchase Intentions for Brazilian Recycled PET Products—Circular Economy Opportunities
Recycling 2021, 6(4), 75; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6040075 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 875
Abstract
Circular economy involves structural changes in traditional business models and consumers’ behavior toward recycled products. The recycling of PET products is increasing but there is still a gap between consumption and demand for PET packaging in Brazil. In this research, waste reduction was [...] Read more.
Circular economy involves structural changes in traditional business models and consumers’ behavior toward recycled products. The recycling of PET products is increasing but there is still a gap between consumption and demand for PET packaging in Brazil. In this research, waste reduction was examined under a projective scenario to the current ecological purposes in Brazil for reducing environmental pollution. In that manner, this paper aimed to comprehend the intention to purchase recycled PET products of Brazilian consumers. With a non-probabilistic and convenience sample, the study counts 422 participants. The method employed was based on structural equation modelling and partial least Squares, used to test the hypotheses of causality among the variables. Results showed the perception of low quality about recycled products reduced consumers’ intention to purchase. Additionally, the sustainability of recycled products positively influenced the intention to purchase. In addition, recycled products presented a negative impact on the perceived safety, which could influence the purchase of recycled products in Brazil. We conclude that the image that Brazilian consumers have about recycled products positively affects the intention to purchase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
Recycling of WEEE Plastics Waste in Mortar: The Effects on Mechanical Properties
Recycling 2021, 6(4), 70; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6040070 - 22 Oct 2021
Viewed by 728
Abstract
This work focused on the recycling of WEEE plastic waste as a partial substitute for aggregate in light mortars. The plastic mix, provided by the IREN group, was used as a replacement of aggregate in 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90%vol [...] Read more.
This work focused on the recycling of WEEE plastic waste as a partial substitute for aggregate in light mortars. The plastic mix, provided by the IREN group, was used as a replacement of aggregate in 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90%vol in mortars. Worsening of the mechanical performance of around 50% was detected already at only 15%vol of mineral aggregate substituted with plastic waste. The explanation of this phenomenon was found in both the scarce mechanical properties of the used plastic and in the poor adhesion between matrix and plastics that resulted in extra-porosity formation, as also demonstrated by comparing the results with several models in the literature. However, the use of plastic waste as a partial replacement of natural aggregate contributes to the preservation of natural resources and, in any case, does not limit the application of these materials in non-structural applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
How COVID-19 Could Change the Economics of the Plastic Recycling Sector
Recycling 2021, 6(4), 64; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6040064 - 26 Sep 2021
Viewed by 956
Abstract
The price of oil has a great influence on prices of recycled plastics and, therefore, plastic recycling efforts. Here, we analyze the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on crude oil price and how this, in turn, is likely to affect the degree [...] Read more.
The price of oil has a great influence on prices of recycled plastics and, therefore, plastic recycling efforts. Here, we analyze the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on crude oil price and how this, in turn, is likely to affect the degree of plastic recycling that takes place. Impulse response functions and variance decompositions, calculated from the structural vector autoregression, suggest that changes in crude oil prices are key drivers of the price of recycled plastics. The findings highlight that because plastics are made from the by-products of oil, falling oil prices increase the cost of recycling. Therefore, the price of recycled plastics should be supported using taxes while encouraging sustained behavioral changes among consumers and producers to selectively collect and recycle personal protective equipment so that they do not clog our landfills or end up in our water bodies as plastic waste. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
Effect of Hard Plastic Waste on the Quality of Recycled Polypropylene Blends
Recycling 2021, 6(3), 58; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6030058 - 01 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2748
Abstract
The recycling of plastic waste is undergoing fast growth due to environmental, health and economic issues, and several blends of post-consumer and post-industrial polymeric materials have been characterized in recent years. However, most of these researches have focused on plastic containers and packaging, [...] Read more.
The recycling of plastic waste is undergoing fast growth due to environmental, health and economic issues, and several blends of post-consumer and post-industrial polymeric materials have been characterized in recent years. However, most of these researches have focused on plastic containers and packaging, neglecting hard plastic waste. This study provides the first experimental characterization of different blends of hard plastic waste and virgin polypropylene in terms of melt index, differential scan calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), mechanical properties (tensile, impact and Shore hardness) and Vicat softening test. Compared to blends based on packaging plastic waste, significant differences were observed in terms of melt flow index (about 10 points higher for hard plastic waste). Mechanical properties, in particular yield strain, were instead quite similar (between 5 and 9%), despite a higher standard deviation being observed, up to 10%, probably due to incomplete homogenization. Results demonstrate that these worse performances could be mainly attributed to the presence of different additives, as well as to the presence of impurities or traces of other polymers, other than incomplete homogenization. On the other hand, acceptable results were obtained for selected blends; the optimal blending ratio was identified as 78% post-consumer waste and 22% post-industrial waste, meeting the requirement for injection molding and thermoforming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Article
Incentives for Plastic Recycling: How to Engage Citizens in Active Collection. Empirical Evidence from Spain
Recycling 2021, 6(2), 29; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/recycling6020029 - 26 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1657
Abstract
The recycling target for plastics is expected to increase Europe-wide from 22.5% to 55% by 2025, hence the relevance of incentive schemes and the need to reach conclusions about how to encourage families to recycle more. Following this objective, a pilot project was [...] Read more.
The recycling target for plastics is expected to increase Europe-wide from 22.5% to 55% by 2025, hence the relevance of incentive schemes and the need to reach conclusions about how to encourage families to recycle more. Following this objective, a pilot project was implemented and a virtual reward token called RECICLOS created to encourage recycling among families, using incentives and awards to improve recycling behaviour and a webapp prototype to register the recycled plastic. By the end of the 6-week pilot project, 1053 families were registered on the scheme, representing 10% of the targeted population in the pilot area of the county of Pla de l’Estany, Catalonia, Spain. The novelties were the introduction of a token, the gamification of incentives through raffles and lotteries, webapp-based direct communication with citizens, and feedback after collecting and registering the recycled material. The multidimensional aspects of recycling activities, their strong relation with human behavioural patterns, and the high demand for communication and interaction mean that mobile technologies find significant application in this field. The results show that people can be influenced and their recycling habits changed by means of varied, effective, and innovative incentive schemes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Review

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Review
Informing the Public and Educating Students on Plastic Recycling
Recycling 2021, 6(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/recycling6040069 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1200
Abstract
Approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste is generated per year. The major portion of this plastic waste is landfilled, while part of it leaks into the environment. When plastic waste enters the terrestrial or aqueous environment, it can have negative impacts on [...] Read more.
Approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste is generated per year. The major portion of this plastic waste is landfilled, while part of it leaks into the environment. When plastic waste enters the terrestrial or aqueous environment, it can have negative impacts on ecosystems, human health, and wildlife. Increasing the amount of plastic waste that is recycled will correspondingly reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters the environment. By educating the public and industry on plastic recycling, current recycling programs can be used more efficiently, and new programs can be created. Education material on plastic recycling is available through professional and industry associations, foundations with an environmental focus, university courses, and short courses offered with private companies. This review assembles and analyzes the current education material on plastic recycling that is available from these providers. The material compiled here can be used to gain insight into specific plastic recycling-related topics, to identify areas of recycling education that can be improved, and as a resource to help build university level courses. There is currently a dearth of plastic recycling courses offered at the university level. Educating more students on plastic recycling will equip them with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions as consumers, and to implement plastic recycling systems at the professional level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Recycling and Processing of Plastic Waste)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Properties and re-useability of light fraction plastics mechanically separated from WEEE
Authors: Ossi Martikka
Affiliation: LUT University
Abstract: Only in the EU, electrical and electronic equipment market reached 8.9 million tonnes in 2017, with increase of 6.5% from the previous year. Almost 3.8 million tonnes of WEEE was collected in the European union during 2017. The challenge with the reclaimed plastics, that it is likely they contain currently restricted substances as persistent organic pollutants. In this paper, the feasibility and possibility of recycling and sustainably reusing the light fraction separated from WEEE plastics utilizing hydrocyclone separation, is investigated with regard to regulatory norms such as 2011/65/EU and 2019/1021 (EU).

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