Solid waste management techniques of polymers

A major part of municipal solid waste comprises of packaging material waste and it has caused increasing environmental concerns, resulting in the induction of strict environmental Regulations in order to reduce solid waste. Among other materials, a wide range of petroleum-based polymers is currently being used in packaging applications. They are predominantly non-biodegradable and particularly difficult to recycle or reuse due to various levels of contamination and complex composites. Over the years, the development of biodegradable packaging materials from renewable natural resources has received increasing attention, particularly in European countries. Significant progress has been done to produce biodegradable materials with similar functionality to that of the oil-based synthetic polymers. It is anticipated that, as the materials are from renewable resources and biodegradable, they would contribute to sustainable development and if properly managed will decrease their environmental impact upon disposal. But when it to the disposal of current generation of synthetic plastics like the ones found in consumer products are disposed in landfills which undergo biodegradation and photodegradation. Polymers such as polyacrylics and polyethylenes are not associated with significant polymer degradation or mobility. Landfill disposal is an effective means to manage polymer waste and additional waste management techniques can be applied which includes, recycling, reuse, composting and waste-to-energy incineration. More recent methods of polymer recycling are also being developed, one such method is selective dissolution which utilises xylene as a solvent to dissolve the polymer resin. This process is repeated at different temperatures to separate the various polymers within the mix, which can be pelletized later for plastic industries.

  • Biodegradation of synthetic polymers
  • Incineration
  • Mechanical recycling of single polymeric plastics
  • Chemical recycling techniques of polymers
  • Selective dissolution

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