In order to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emission of disposable plastics, DOE of the US Department of energy recently announced that it would provide us $13.4 million for the next generation of plastics technology. Seven R & D projects led by industry and universities have received the financial support. These seven projects will be committed to developing affordable "upgraded recycling" solutions, converting waste plastic films into more valuable materials, and designing new plastics that are easy to recycle and biodegradable.
The energy consumption of plastic production process is very high. According to statistics, plastic production accounts for more than 3% of the total energy consumption of the United States. Nevertheless, many of these materials end up in landfills or the environment, especially disposable plastics, such as plastic bags, packaging bags and films. At present, less than 10% of plastics are recycled, and most of them are "degraded and recycled" for low-value products.
This investment will help the Department of energy meet the challenge of plastic waste recycling and support the Biden administration to establish a clean energy economy to ensure that the United States will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Seven projects supported by government funds are as follows:
Braskem (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) will develop recycled monomer polymer chemical biological based multilayer films. (US $2 million)
Iowa State University of science and Technology (Ames, Iowa) will develop a closed-loop recycling technology that can upgrade disposable plastic films to biodegradable materials. (US $2.5 million)
Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan) will redesign existing recyclable plastics. (USD 1705811)
The State University of agriculture and technology of North Carolina (Greensboro, North Carolina) catalyzes the deconstruction of plasma treated disposable plastics into value-added chemicals and new materials. (US $249994)
TDA Research Center (Whiteridge, Colorado) will develop recycled, recyclable and biodegradable films for improving food packaging. (US $1609056)
The University of Lowell, Massachusetts (Lowell, Massachusetts) will integrate delamination and carbonization processes for the upgrading cycle of disposable multilayer plastic films. (US $1600276)
The University of West Virginia (morgenton, West Virginia) will develop a process for modular upgrading of microwave catalyzed reinforced plastic films into monomers. (USD 1500001)
"Disposable plastics produce a lot of carbon emissions that are difficult to recycle, which pollute beaches, parks and communities," said Jennifer M. Granholm, Minister of energy, "By improving technology and realizing the recycling and biodegradation of disposable plastics, the triple goals of reducing plastic waste, reducing emissions from the plastic industry and providing clean jobs for American workers can be achieved at the same time."
Carbon emissions from the US plastics industry are soaring
Recently, the beyond plastic project team of Bennington College in the United States released a new report saying that plastic is a new type of coal and will have an impact on global climate change. According to the report of the new coal: Plastics & climate change, the plastics industry has made an amazing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and will even replace the coal industry as the biggest "killer" of climate change!
The report gives a comprehensive description of the contribution of the US plastics industry to the climate crisis. The report points out that from an energy perspective, plastics are a key driver of petrochemical products, and the demand for plastics has exceeded all other bulk materials (such as steel, oil, natural gas and natural gas).
The plastic infrastructure of the US petrochemical industry is expanding and emissions are expected to increase significantly. Since 2019, at least 42 plastic facilities have been opened, under construction or under approval. If these new plastic plants are fully operational, by 2025, these new plastic plants will release an additional 55 million tons of carbon dioxide gas, equivalent to 27 new 500 MW coal-fired power plants.
In order to reduce plastic pollution, on the one hand, governments of various countries have successively issued laws and regulations to force the addition of recycled plastics. For example, California passed and implemented the first recycled plastic bottle act in the United States last year, requiring beverage bottles to add at least 15% recycled plastics, which will increase to 50% by 2030; From April 1, the UK will impose a plastic packaging tax of £ 200 per ton on plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled materials made or imported from the UK. On the other hand, global consumer goods and retail giants such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Unilever, Nestle and Wal Mart called last week for a global agreement to combat plastic pollution and increase the use of recycled plastics.
As the main path to reduce plastic pollution, plastic recycling may become another global focus after carbon neutralization, and the industry is expected to stand at the tuyere.