Systems Engineering Approaches for Scalable Plastic Waste Management

Feb 7, 2024, 4:00 pm5:00 pm



Event Description

Plastics are essential materials in modern life, but it is no secret that they generate a wide range of environmental problems. In this talk, we discuss how systems engineering tools can help identify scalable recycling/upcycling strategies for handling plastic waste. Specifically, we show how systems engineering can help integrate molecular simulations, computational catalysis, techno-economic analysis, lifecycle assessment, and supply chain optimization to identify processes (and entire infrastructures) that can convert vast, distributed, and complex plastic waste streams (e.g., post-consumer mixtures and multi-layer films) into value-added products. We also discuss how such integrative frameworks can help design plastic materials/products that are inherently more sustainable and can help design incentives/policies that aim to change consumer and industry behavior. Our discussion will aim to emphasize how "systems thinking” is essential for addressing pressing sustainability problems, as such problems integrate products, technologies, supply chains, and stakeholders at a global scale.