In order to reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of single-use plastics, the US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that it will provide $13.4 million in funding for plastics technology. Seven projects led by industry and universities received the funding. The seven projects will work to develop affordable “Up-cycled” solutions to convert waste plastic film into more valuable materials and to design new plastics that are easily recyclable and biodegradable.
The plastic production process consumes a lot of energy. According to statistics, plastic production accounts for more than 3% of the total energy consumption in the United States. Still, many of these materials end up in landfills or the environment, especially single-use plastics such as plastic bags, packaging, and films. Currently, less than 10% of plastic is recycled, and most is “down-cycled” for lower-value products.
This investment benefits the Department of Energy in addressing the plastic waste recycling challenge and supports a Biden administration to build a clean energy economy to ensure the United States achieves net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The seven projects that have received government funding are as follows:
- Braskem (Pittsburgh, PA) will develop cyclically recyclable monomer polymer chemical bio-based multi-layer($2 million)
- Iowa State University of Science and Technology will develop a closed-loop recycling technology that can upgrade single-use plastic film to biodegradable materials. ($2.5 million);
- Michigan State University will redesign existing recyclable plastics. ($1,705,811);
- NC State University of Agriculture and Technology Catalytically Deconstructs Plasma-treated Single-Use Plastics into Value-Added Chemicals and Novel Materials. ($2,499,994);
- The TDA Research Center will develop cyclically recyclable and biodegradable films for improved food packaging. ($1,609,056);
- The University of Massachusetts Lowell will integrate denominationand carbonation processes for up-cycling of single-use multi-layer plastic films. ($1,600,276);
- West Virginia University will develop a process for the modular upgrade of microwave-catalyzed reinforced plastic films into monomers. ($1,500,001).