Expanding Plastics Recycling Technologies: Chemical Aspects, Technology Status and Challenges

Houqian Li, Horacio Aguirre-Villegas, Robert Allen, Xianglan Bai, Craig Benson, Gregg Beckham, Sabrina Bradshaw, Jessica Brown, Robert Brown, Marco Sanchez Castillo, Victor Cecon, Julia Curley, Greg Curtzwiler, Son Dong, Soumika Gaddameedi, John Garcia, Ive Hermans, Min Kim, Jiaze Ma, Lesli MarkManos Mavrikakis, Olumide Olafasakin, Tim Osswald, Kostas Papanikolaou, Harish Radhakrishnan, Kevin Sanchez-Rivera, Khairun Tumu, Reid Van Lehn, Keith Vorst, Mark Wright, Jianyang Wu, Victor Zavala, Penzheng Zhou, George Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Less than 10% of the plastics generated globally are recycled, while the rest are incinerated, accumulated in landfills, or leach into the environment. New technologies are emerging to chemically recycle waste plastics that are receiving tremendous interest from academia and industry. Chemists and chemical engineers need to understand the fundamentals of these technologies to design improved systems for chemical recycling and upcycling of waste plastics. In this paper, we review the entire life cycle of plastics and options for the management of plastic waste to address barriers to industrial chemical recycling and further provide perceptions on possible opportunities with such materials. Knowledge and insights to enhance plastic recycling beyond its current scale are provided. Outstanding research problems and where researchers in the field should focus their efforts in the future are also discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages200
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-2A00-84690 for paper as published in Green Chemistry

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-82693


  • commercial
  • decomposition
  • energy
  • plastics
  • recycling
  • waste


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