Managing Plastic Waste-Sorting, Recycling, Disposal, and Product Redesign

Jean Paul Lange*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)
1083 Downloads (Pure)


Over the years, the petrochemical industry has developed a plethora of polymers that are contributing to the well-being of humanity. Irresponsible disposal of used plastics has, however, led to the buildup of litter, which is fouling the environment, harming wildlife, and wasting valuable resources. This paper critically reviews the challenge and opportunities in converting plastic waste into a feedstock for the industry. It discusses (a) the amount, quality, and sorting of plastic waste; (b) mechanical recycling and extraction or dissolution/precipitation; (c) chemical recycling to monomers and to feedstock and other chemicals; and (d) waste disposal by incineration, biodegradation, landfill, and microplastics. It will, finally, broaden the circularity discussion with life-cycle analyses (LCA), design for recycling, and the future role of renewable carbon as a feedstock.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15722-15738
Number of pages17
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number47
Early online date12 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2021


  • biodegradation
  • design for recycling
  • energy
  • plastic
  • recycling
  • sorting
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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