Scientists Have Found A Way To Eliminate Odors From Plastic Waste

Spanish scientists have developed a way to eliminate the smell of household plastic waste, such as used shampoo bottles, in an attempt to create conditions for recycling later.

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According to efe on November 24, 29.1 million tons of plastic waste were produced in Europe in 2018, of which 17.8 million tons were packaged waste, 42 percent of which was recycled and the rest was incinerated or buried in landfills, according to the European plastics manufacturers association. That means more than 10 million tons of plastic waste in Europe goes unrecycled every year.

Experts Andrea cabanez gil and andres fuyana fonte of the university of alicante in Spain spent a year and a half developing the new method, which has huge potential for applications.

The researchers point out that recycling of household plastic waste is limited by the absorption of high levels of food or cleaning product waste in its polymer matrix, which is a source of pollution and bad smells.

They stressed that the odors were volatile organic compounds that could not currently be disposed of through conventional washing or mechanical recycling. Therefore, they argue, “it is necessary to recycle these household plastic wastes in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner for later use as feedstock, thereby reducing their presence in landfills, reducing production costs and increasing the added value of products”.

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The new system, designed by the waste, energy, environmental measurement and nanotechnology team, USES water vapor to extract volatile organic compounds (vocs) to eliminate the odors, the report said.

The report says the system includes several stages. The first is the separation and adjustment of plastics; The second is crushing; Third, chemical washing with surfactant; Fourth, wash plastic materials; Fifth, mechanical drying; Sixth, in the distillation column for plastic deodorization.

Kavanez-gill says the more complex the plastic, the more difficult it is to recycle, so there is an urgent need to design plastics with simpler structures.

The new method was patented a few months ago and five companies, including one multinational, have expressed considerable interest, the report said.