Preliminary assessment of plastic waste valorization via sequential pyrolysis and catalytic reforming
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In this article, a life cycle assessment approach is used to carry out a preliminary assessment of the environmental and energy performance of a specific chemical recycling and recovery system that supplies a variety of petrochemical blendstocks through the sequential pyrolysis and catalytic reforming of plastic wastes. Characterization results are presented for a selection of seven impact categories: abiotic depletion, global warming, acidification, eutrophication, ozone layer depletion, photochemical oxidant formation and cumulative non-renewable energy demand. From a combined environmental and energy perspective, the results suggest the suitability of this system for plastic waste valorization. However, improvement actions aimed at reducing the thermal energy demand and mitigating direct emissions to the air should be undertaken. Furthermore, the environmental profiles of the proposed petrochemical blendstocks are compared with those of conventional energy products. A comparison among this chemical recycling and recovery system and two conventional management practices (municipal incineration and landfilling) is also addressed. The results show that the considered system could entail relevant environmental and energy benefits when compared to conventional energy systems and waste management strategies.
KeywordsChemical recycling and recovery Cumulative energy demand Environmental impact Life cycle assessment Plastic waste
This research has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (TRA2009-0111).
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