In order to mitigate the social and ecological impacts of post-consumer plastic made of conventional petrochemical polymers, the market of (bio)degradable plastics have recently become more widespread. Although (bio)degradable plastics could be an environmentally friendly substitute of petrochemical ones, the consequences of their presence in the waste management system and in the environment (if not correctly disposed) are not always positive and plastic pollution is not automatically solved. Consequently, this work aims to review how plastic (bio)degradability affects the municipal solid waste management cycle. To this end, the state-of-the-art of the intrinsic (bio)degradability of conventional and unconventional petrochemical and bio-based polymers has been discussed, focusing on the environment related to the waste management system. Then, the focus was on strategies to improve polymer (bio)degradability: different types of eco-design and pre-treatment approach for plastics has been investigated, differently from other works that focused only on specific topics. The information gathered was used to discuss three typical disposal/treatment routes for plastic waste. Despite many of the proposed materials in eco-design have increased the plastics (bio)degradability and pre-treatments have showed interesting results, these achievements are not always positive in the current MSW management system. The effect on mechanical recycling is negative in several cases but the enhanced (bio)degradability can help the treatment with organic waste. On the other hand, the current waste treatment facility is not capable to manage this waste, leading to the incineration the most promising options. In this way, the consumption of raw materials will persist even by using (bio)degradable plastics, which strength the doubt if the solution of plastic pollution leads really on these materials. The review also highlighted the need for further research on this topic that is currently limited by the still scarce amount of (bio)degradable plastics in input to full-scale waste treatment plants.

The role of (bio)degradability on the management of petrochemical and bio-based plastic waste

De Gisi S.;Gorrasi G.;Sorrentino A.
2022

Abstract

In order to mitigate the social and ecological impacts of post-consumer plastic made of conventional petrochemical polymers, the market of (bio)degradable plastics have recently become more widespread. Although (bio)degradable plastics could be an environmentally friendly substitute of petrochemical ones, the consequences of their presence in the waste management system and in the environment (if not correctly disposed) are not always positive and plastic pollution is not automatically solved. Consequently, this work aims to review how plastic (bio)degradability affects the municipal solid waste management cycle. To this end, the state-of-the-art of the intrinsic (bio)degradability of conventional and unconventional petrochemical and bio-based polymers has been discussed, focusing on the environment related to the waste management system. Then, the focus was on strategies to improve polymer (bio)degradability: different types of eco-design and pre-treatment approach for plastics has been investigated, differently from other works that focused only on specific topics. The information gathered was used to discuss three typical disposal/treatment routes for plastic waste. Despite many of the proposed materials in eco-design have increased the plastics (bio)degradability and pre-treatments have showed interesting results, these achievements are not always positive in the current MSW management system. The effect on mechanical recycling is negative in several cases but the enhanced (bio)degradability can help the treatment with organic waste. On the other hand, the current waste treatment facility is not capable to manage this waste, leading to the incineration the most promising options. In this way, the consumption of raw materials will persist even by using (bio)degradable plastics, which strength the doubt if the solution of plastic pollution leads really on these materials. The review also highlighted the need for further research on this topic that is currently limited by the still scarce amount of (bio)degradable plastics in input to full-scale waste treatment plants.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4795309
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 0
  • Scopus 4
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 4
social impact