Life cycle and economic analyses of various treatment strategies for single-used lab plastic waste and development of an experimental plan for plastic characterisation post-decontamination
Over 5.5 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated globally from the research sectors. The majority of this waste goes to landfill or incineration due to a lack of recycling service. We aim to create a circular economy in the research sectors by offering a solution to sort, decontaminate and recycle the plastics.
This project is designed to conduct techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment of various treatment and processing methods for this plastic waste. Subsequently, long-term strategies which will offer better economic and environmental benefits will be concluded. In addition, a detailed experimental plan will be produced to characterise properties of processed plastics.
Key tasks and timeline
Mid-May to mid-July
- Analyse input-output life cycle inventory data for the LabCycle’s alternative treatment methods, and plastic characterisation data
- Compare the environmental impacts between autoclave and chemical disinfection.
Mid-July to mid-August
- Literature findings on the key properties (e.g. contaminant, rigidity, abrasion and strain resistance, dimensional stability, impact resistance and thermostability) and characterisation methods of PP, PS and HDPE
- Produce a detailed experimental plan for characterisation of LabCycle’s post-decontamination plastics (including objectives, materials, procedures and risk assessment).
Mid-August to mid-September
- Identify facilities in the University of Surrey to characterise and if possible to treat or process the materials
- Carry out economic analysis of turning decontaminated plastics into lab-grade plastic consumables via mechanical recycling, and to compare this with directly selling the decontaminated plastics to recycling companies.