By combining different technologies, plastic that is climate-neutral throughout its entire lifecycle can be produced not only technically but also economically. That's what an international team of researchers would have shown in a new study, according to a report from ETH Zurich. The team includes researchers from RWTH Aachen University, ETH Zurich and the University of California Santa Barbara. André Bardow, formerly of RWTH Aachen University and now a professor of energy and process systems engineering at ETH Zurich, leads the team that would have developed a new calculation model for global plastics production and disposal. According to ETH, this has shown that it is possible to economically produce plastics that are climate-neutral throughout their entire life cycle. This is to be ensured by a clever combination of the already developed technologies of plastics recycling and plastics production from biomass as well as from CO₂ through carbon capture and utilization (CCU). According to the calculations, the combination would depend on the highest possible proportion of recyclates. If the three ways are optimally mixed, the energy requirement can be reduced by 34 to 53 percent compared with current manufacturing practices. The costs would be comparable or could even be reduced in the future under favorable conditions. The path to this goal could be politically promoted through incentives for more plastics recycling, more use of biomass and CCU. According to Bardow, there is great potential in cleverly combining the various manufacturing paths, which should not be thought of individually.
More information: study at www.science.org/doi
- ethz.ch (9/30/2021)
- Photo: © Fotolia / Konstatin Yuganov