‘Innovation in plastics recycling technology is a triple win…’
The US Department of Energy (DoE) is providing up to $14.5 million for research and development into ways to cut waste, and reduce the energy used to recycle single-use plastics. The investment backs the Biden Administration’s steps to ensure the US reaches net-zero by 2050.
The funding will support a range of projects to develop economically viable solutions for converting plastic films to more valuable materials, as well as designing new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable.
The DoE said that the funding opportunity builds on its investments in a range of innovative projects including the DoE Bio-Optimised Technologies to keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (BOTTLE) Consortium. This consortium has developed an enzyme to ‘deconstruct’ polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging materials, as well as a plastic that can easily be recycled.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said: ‘Innovation in plastics recycling technology is a triple win: by cutting plastic waste we see in our everyday lives, reducing industrial energy use and resulting emissions, and creating clean manufacturing jobs for American workers.’
The DoE says that plastic production accounts for more than 3% of total US energy consumption. However, less than 10% of plastics are currently recycled, and most of that is ‘down cycled’ or repurposed into low-value products, the DoE added.