Plastic waste can be handled with several traditional waste management strategies, including landfilling, incineration, and recycling. Several novel strategies for recycling plastic waste have been proposed and researched for practical use, however the sustainability of the novel processes have not been analyzed in detail. This paper outlines a strategy for recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste through pyrolysis. A sustainability assessment of the process is conducted to analyze the environmental, economic, and social performance of recycling PET waste into crude oil. Environmental performance is evaluated using life cycle assessment, and the ReCiPe, cumulative energy demand (CED), and cumulative exergy demand (CExD) impact assessment methods. Net present value analysis is used to assess the economic impacts of the process. To complete a holistic sustainability assessment, social benefits and impacts are presented through a qualitative review of the process. In addition, an environmental impact analysis of the production of virgin PET using the recovered crude oil is presented and compared with traditional virgin PET production in terms of sustainability performance metrics. CED and CExD impact results emphasize the conceivable evidence of plastic waste as an energy source. The research highlights the use of standardized impact assessment methods to realize the environmental, economic, and social benefits of recycling PET into crude oil. Furthermore, a review of various process improvements broadens the potential for optimization of the novel process to further elucidate the benefits of plastic recycling.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.