Abstract: The accumulation of plastics waste in landfills and in the natural environment is creating a global pollution crisis. Moreover, current mechanical recycling approaches do not typically incentivize the reclamation of many waste plastics, and mechanical recycling is not universally applicable to all synthetic polymers. To that end, the research community is developing additional approaches that harness biological and chemical catalysis approaches to deconstruct plastics to processable intermediates and convert them into the same plastics or other products – namely chemical recycling. This talk will cover development efforts for selective approaches that use biological and chemical catalysis for plastics deconstruction and upcycling. Discussion and examples of techno-economic analysis and life-cycle assessment applied to chemical recycling scenarios will also be highlighted, both of which are essential tools to enable realistic solutions to this global pollution challenge.
Biography: Gregg Beckham is a Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader at NREL. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at MIT in 2007. He currently leads and works with an interdisciplinary team of biologists, chemists, and engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on green processes and products using chemistry and biology, including in the areas of biomass conversion and plastics upcycling.