Plastic production has increased twentyfold during the last 50 years, is expected to double again by 2035 – and quadruple by 2050. Due to mismanagement of plastic waste, about 10% of the annual production of plastics enters the environment and thus harms animals and ecosystems. In Europe, the overall plastic recycling rate is about 30%. The rest ends up in landfills or is burnt or exported to other countries for further treatment.
As petroleum polymeric materials made from fossil oil, plastics are supposed to be reused, repaired and/or recycled several times before losing their original characteristics. However, the addition of chemicals as additives to increase their durability or flexibility, affect the recyclability and consequently market demand for recycled products. The presence of some toxic and hazardous additive chemicals is of great concern regarding the use and application of recycled plastics.
Understanding to what extent Norway, one of the largest waste-producing countries per capita, contributes to this global problem, is the main objective of PLASTCYCLE project. By using Norwegian national status-quo data on the consumption and disposal of different types of plastics, the scientists involved in PLASTCYCLE will map the stock and flow of plastics from use to waste in Norway. Considering various additive chemicals that are applied in different plastic types, PLASTCYCLE will map the flow of these chemicals from consumer products to waste. Later, those that are of concern regarding reappearance in recycled products will be identified.
PLASTCYCLE will provide a comprehensive overview of fate of different plastic types and additive chemicals in the waste stream. We will also provide solutions for optimizing plastic waste management by coupling scientific findings with information and knowledge of industrial partners, municipalities and waste management companies across Norway.
The PLASTCYCLE consortium consists of the following partners:
NILU-Norwegian Institute for Air Research (project lead)