Dynamic Systems Analysis of PET and Olefin Polymers in a Circular Economy

Circular Economy, Energy

United States

Presented by: David R. Shonnard, Ph.D., Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University

This webinar will provide an update on progress made after the first year of the project. The goal of this R&D project is to conduct a systems analysis of a circular economy of PET and olefin plastics (HDPE/LDPE-LLDPE/PP) with a U.S. scope and with a Michigan case study. In doing this, the project team will apply the conceptual modeling framework developed earlier in a REMADE exploratory project. 

The project team will predict energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for a circular economy of plastics and compare results to the current baseline linear economy.

The team has convened and engaged with experts from the plastics supply chain in an advisory board for the project. The baseline linear economy for PET and olefin plastics in the U.S., representing over 70% of plastics flows, was completed and showed that the system emitted 1.5% of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, contributed 5.1% to U.S. industry emissions, and accounted for 3.1% of U.S. energy consumption. Emissions and energy demand are mostly from virgin resin production, and secondly from semi-manufacturing processes such as extrusion, injection stretch blow molding, and blow molding.

Only 7% of the end-of-life waste PET and olefin plastics were collected for recycling, and PET was the resin with the highest recycle rate of 19%. As the project enters its second and final year, this webinar will highlight progress toward the final deliverable: a systems analysis of a future circular economy for plastics in the U.S. and the state of Michigan. 

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