Odor of plastic recyclates limits their use
In addition to price and performance attributes, aspects such as sustainability and the effective use of resources are becoming increasingly important factors when selecting a particular packaging system or packaging material. Global initiatives such as the Circular Economy approach of the McArthur Foundation and national legislation (Packaging Act) are demanding higher recycling quotas and the use of high-quality recyclates in new products, particular in the packaging industry. However, contaminated plastics from mixed post-consumer packaging waste are a major hurdle for the circular economy because existing purification and recycling processes often cannot produce the recyclate quality required by the packaging industry. Issues include the mechanical and processing properties of the recyclates and increasingly also their odor profiles.
Development of methods for removing odors from plastic recyclates
The objective of this research project is to develop methods to effectively remove odorous contaminants. A key aspect of the work is identifying the chemical structures of the odorous compounds. The project work covers sensory evaluation of specimen materials by a trained sensory panel and also chemical-analytical olfactory tests in order to characterize the odorous compounds in plastic waste and recyclates. This will allow the precursor molecules to be ultimately identified and possible reaction pathways and sources of the odorous compounds. Working with industrial partners, this fundamental knowledge will then be utilized to develop customized solutions for optimization or minimization of the odors of recyclates.
In addition to analyzing odors in packaging waste and recyclates, odorous substances in waste and recycled products in other industries will also be monitored, for example in the automotive industry.