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Special Issue "Plastic Waste Management Systems under the Circular Economy Perspective"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2022 | Viewed by 4829

Special Issue Editors

Dr. John N. Hahladakis
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Guest Editor
Center for Sustainable Development, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha P.O. Box 2713, Qatar
Interests: solid waste and resource management; plastic marine litter; environmental and chemical engineering; circular economy; remediation technologies of soils-sediments-wastewater
Dr. Eleni Iacovidou
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Co-Guest Editor
Division of Environmental Sciences, College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Interests: food waste prevention and management; plastic and plastic packaging system assessment; construction components reuse and modular structures; waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) repair and reuse
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Eggo Ulphard Thoden van Velzen
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Co-Guest Editor
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, 6709 WG Wageningen, The Netherlands
Interests: packaging technology and the recycling of packaging waste

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Owing to several unique properties, plastics are currently considered to be the workhorse product of our modern society and, in a way, can promote sustainability under the circular economy (CE) concept; a concept that proclaims to instil a way of living where resources are retained and/or fed back into the economy, in the form of either “closed” or “cascaded” loops, for as long as possible. However, a vast amount of plastics become waste, due to leakage into the environment, mismanagement and/or inappropriate disposal at their consumption and/or end-of-life stage. It is, therefore, imperative to seek solutions at all stages of the plastic waste system and infrastructure, necessitating their sustainable management by combining integrated solid waste management strategies and focusing on redesigning and/or reinventing ways of reducing plastic waste and restricting the use of substances of concern in them. Designing and creating better quality plastics could potentially lead to a better recovery of “value” in the plastic waste systems, where value is considered as a complex variable, with impacts in mulptiple  domains (i.e. environmental, economic, technical and social). If we can somehow accomplish this, the necessary interventions can be identified much easier and a higher potential of recovering resources can be unveiled and achieved.

In this SI we welcome, therefore, research and review articles that deal with all types of plastic waste management, ways of upcycling or downcycling them, substances of concern embedded in them, ways of combating plastic waste leakage in marine and terrestrial environments, as well as design and adoption of any new methods that will help reduce plastic waste under the CE era.

Dr. John N. Hahladakis
Guest Editor

Dr. Eleni Iacovidou
Dr. Eggo Ulphard Thoden van Velzen
Co-Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • plastic waste
  • plastics
  • sustainability
  • circular economy
  • waste management systems
  • resource recovery from waste

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Article
Conversion of Marine Litter from Venice Lagoon into Marine Fuels via Thermochemical Route: The Overview of Products, Their Yield, Quality and Environmental Impact
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169481 - 23 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 951
Abstract
Plastics floating in ocean gyres are a popular topic within pollution discussion; however, no simple solution exists to deal with marine litter. Overcoming limitations in collection, and perhaps even more in the environmentally, technically and economically acceptable use of the collected material, is [...] Read more.
Plastics floating in ocean gyres are a popular topic within pollution discussion; however, no simple solution exists to deal with marine litter. Overcoming limitations in collection, and perhaps even more in the environmentally, technically and economically acceptable use of the collected material, is of paramount importance. This paper presents initial results from converting plastic marine litter processed as-is, without pretreatment, and sorting into marine gas oil (MGO) compliant with the ISO8217 DMA standard via a pyrolysis and distillation process. Yields, composition and key properties of products along with levels of eight environmental contaminants potentially generated by the process are presented. More than 100 kg of actual marine litter from the Venice Lagoon, including polyolefins packaging and polyamides fishing nets, were converted into products at approximately 45 wt% yield of which approximately 50% (V/V) was MGO. By our knowledge, this is the first report of chemical recycling of real marine litter targeting the production of standardized marine fuels beyond laboratory scale, outlining coarse but realistic figures finally available as an initial benchmark. The process supports the concept of circularity in the blue economy and could be employed to tackle difficult terrestrial plastic waste to help prevent marine litter generation. Full article
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Article
Factors Shaping the Recycling Systems for Plastic Packaging Waste—A Comparison between Austria, Germany and The Netherlands
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6772; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126772 - 15 Jun 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2026
Abstract
Setting up strategies for a sound management of plastic packaging waste (PPW) is becoming increasingly crucial at many levels of the value chain in Europe. After the very first implementation of an extended producer responsibility scheme in Germany in 1991, many EU Countries [...] Read more.
Setting up strategies for a sound management of plastic packaging waste (PPW) is becoming increasingly crucial at many levels of the value chain in Europe. After the very first implementation of an extended producer responsibility scheme in Germany in 1991, many EU Countries followed. This resulted in a complex network of schemes that differ from one member state to another. This paper brings together the three latest studies describing the current flows of PPW across the waste value chain from Austria (reference year 2013), Germany and the Netherlands (reference year 2017). With this aim, the models of the three single studies have been adapted to fit into a common model, allowing to perform a comparative analysis. Although with a relatively comparable product market, the three countries have different management systems (e.g., separate collection systems, target sorting products and treatment of residual waste), reflecting different national strategies to achieve the circular economy targets. Recycling rates (in terms of washed milled goods at the output of the recycling process) for the three countries resulted in 23%, 43% and 30% of the total mass of PPW generated in, respectively, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. The fraction of mixed recycled plastics, relevant for Germany and the Netherlands only, was determined to be one of the major determinants of the differences in recycling rates. Furthermore, the discussion revolves around new political targets that have the potential to contribute to addressing the issue of tradeoff between quantity and quality of recycled plastics placed on the market, with measures such as design-for-recycling and eco-modulation of EPR fees playing a critical role, while also pointing out the aspects that inevitably hinder closed-loop recycling. Full article
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Review

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Review
Towards Higher Quality of Recycled Plastics: Limitations from the Material’s Perspective
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13266; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313266 - 30 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 952
Abstract
The increasing consumption of plastics and plastic products results in correspondingly substantial volumes of waste, which poses considerable environmental burdens. With the ongoing environmental actions, the application of circular economy on this waste stream is becoming inevitable. In this paper, the topics of [...] Read more.
The increasing consumption of plastics and plastic products results in correspondingly substantial volumes of waste, which poses considerable environmental burdens. With the ongoing environmental actions, the application of circular economy on this waste stream is becoming inevitable. In this paper, the topics of plastics recycling, circular economy on plastics, and challenges to plastic waste recycling are critically reviewed. In the first part of this paper, the development of research on plastic recycling was viewed from 1950 until 2020 using the scientific database Web of Science, and 682 related studies were found and used to assess the changing research priorities along that timeline. The following sections discuss the potentials and requirements to enhance the quality of the produced recycled plastic, in connection with the factors that currently limit it. In conclusion, the quality of recycled plastic is generally determined by the homogeneity of the recovered plastic feed. There are various strategies which could be implemented to overcome the hindrances identified in the paper and to improve the quality of the recycled plastic, such as working on enhanced product designs for minimised waste heterogeneity and controlling the materials’ degree of contamination by applying advanced sorting. Full article
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