From groundwater pollution to the spread of microplastics, plastic waste is a global problem, which is now exacerbated by our reliance on single-use plastic products used in our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Western countries can count on centralised and often automated waste recycling plants, most low- and middle-income countries cannot. Their recycling infrastructure is often informal, and has far fewer means to ensure correct waste management especially when it comes to the sorting of plastic.
IDE student Jerry de Vos (TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering) decided to tackle this problem in his Master Graduation project ‘Plastic Identification Anywhere’. He defended his thesis on 25 February at TU Delft.
The research in this thesis showed that the sorting phase of the plastic recycling process in particular is very time-consuming and labour-intensive. This led to the central research question: what means can be developed to speed up the process of plastic sorting for recyclers? That is why Vos developed a system that makes the detection technology accessible to recyclers, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
(Innovative Materials 2021 volume 2)