Canadian Plastics

University of Buffalo researchers get funding to improve recycling of plastic film

The effort addresses one of the biggest streams of plastic waste.

May 26, 2021   Canadian Plastics

Photo Credit: Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe Stock

Plastic wraps and films such as Saran Wrap and Cling Wrap are one of the biggest streams of plastic waste, and – problematically – can’t always be recycled in curbside recycling bins.

So, it’s good news that scientists at the University at Buffalo in New York have received a two-year, $555,000 grant to deconstruct flexible plastic materials and find secondary uses for them.

Researchers will investigate how to separate polyolefins and other plastics from additives or impurities by using advanced solvents. The goal is to render the polyolefins suitable for reuse in new products, such as containers for liquids like milk and detergent.

“This is a very common form of plastic that has in many ways flown under the radar when it comes to recycling,” said Paschalis Alexandridis, UB Distinguished Professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering. “The upside is that we think there are ways to repurpose these materials in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly manner.”

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The project’s end-goal is to deconstruct flexible films and multilayer packaging utilizing delamination; recover polyolefin films using separation processes; and to validate that the recovered plastics can replace primary materials without loss of properties or performance.

“We’re not breaking down any molecules, we’re deconstructing them by peeling off and separating polyolefin layers from other materials,” Alexandridis said.

Project partners include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Modern Corporation. Funding comes from the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership established by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office to accelerate the nation’s transition to a circular economy.

Source: University of Buffalo


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