ENG08028 2018 Polymer Recycling

General Details

Full Title
Polymer Recycling
Transcript Title
Polymer Recycling
N/A %
Subject Area
ENG - Engineering
MENG - Mech. and Electronic Eng.
08 - NFQ Level 8
10 - 10 Credits
Start Term
2018 - Full Academic Year 2018-19
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Brian Golden, David Mulligan
Programme Membership
SG_EPOLY_K08 201900 Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Polymer Processing SG_EPOLP_K08 202200 Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Polymer Process Engineering

The aim of this module is to intorduce the learner to the recycling laws and legislation relevant to the plastics industries. The learner will gain an overview of polymers which can be currently recycled and the level of activity both nationally and internationally. Collection and sorting techniques for recycling of plastics will also be presented and will aim to equip the learner with the knowledge in order to select the most appropriate techniqes for different types of plastic materials. Finally additive properties for the enhancement of polymer recycling and reuse markets will be presented with case studies.  

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Compare polymer recycling costs and carbon foot print withe the use of legislation 


Analyse and compare the environmental impact of different materials in product design


Select the most appropriate sorting techniques for a recycling process


Compare and select the most appropriate recycling process


Design plastic part for recycling using knowledge of additive and recycling process

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The lectures will be delivered online part time. The module will demonstrate the appliction of the skills and knowedge in this area by presenting several case studies throughout. The foucs will be on the application of the skills and knowledge gained to various recycling scenarios of plastic parts and to use this knowledge to refine plastic part designs to improve recycling and reuse of plastic parts.

Module Assessment Strategies

This will be an terminal examination to assess the key learning outcomes. However the substantial assessment will be on a project and practical where the student will have to demonstrate their application of the knowedge and skills gained.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat Exams will be made available and the project report can be resubmitted. However if the practical sessions are missed they will have to be resit the following year.

Module Dependencies

MATL07013 201300 Materials for the Polymer Industry

Indicative Syllabus

Session 1 - Recycling Laws and legislation relevant to the plastics industries users and converters, included: EU legislation relevant to specific industries, eg, WEEE (recycling electrical components, Automotive sector, Food packaging, etc. The case to recycle –vs- bio-degradation, pro’s and cons’s. Comparison of polymer recycling costs / carbon foot print compared to recycling steels, wood, glass, ceramics, etc. Influence of economic factors effecting polymer recycling, eg, raw polymer costs, oil pricing, market saturation, restrictive legislation (eg, FDA requirements, etc).

Session 2 - Overview of polymers which are currently recycled, Irish scrap tonnages and identification of their waste streams. Included: Olefines PP, HDPE /paper blended derivatives, LDPE films, etc - nature /properties, raw material costs, typical use applications and environmental issues.

Session 3 – Overview of polymers Cont’d. Included: Styrenics PS, HIPS, SAN, ABS, Acrylics, Polycarbonates, PET, APET, PVC and mixed coloured / ‘jazz’ polymers, thermoset polymers, eg, rubber car tyres. Nature of materials, properties, raw material costs, typical use applications and environmental issues.

Session 4 – Collection, washing and Sorting techniques. Included: Waste polymer collection methods, inc, identification of typical recycling  collection methods, home separation, council collection, distribution,  washing techniques, etc. Sorting techniques, inc, Macrosorting – Near IR spectroscopy, inc, explanation of how process works, interpolation of typical spectra.

Session 5 -  Sorting techniques Cont’d - X-Ray sorting, Laser aided identification, Marker systems, Sink / Float systems, Selective Dissolution, included: explanation of how each process works.

Session 6 - Recycling methods and processes, Examples inc: Typical Bottle recycling (PET), film recycling (LDPE) and REX (reaction extrusion of Acrylic/Polycarbonate). Inc: explanation of the complete process in each case from collection, sorting, washing, processing, testing - back to reconstituted granules.

Session 7 – Re-constituted material characterisation. Inc: test methods undertaken, spectroscopic appraisal, tensile testing, impact testing, viscosity, MFR and HDT test methods explained.

Session 8 - Additive /property enhancement of recycled polymers, eg, co-polymers, blends, thermal stabiliser, UV stabiliser, impact modifiers, fillers, blowing agents, colourants and reinforcing systems explained.

Session 9 - End use markets for recycled polymer. Overview, examples include Olefine ‘polywood’ products,  tyre rubber safety flooring for play grounds, PET bottles to fibres for clothing, recycled poly-fibres for insulation and under-lay, poly fibre reinforcements for concrete, bottle derived PET roofing tiles, Blended medical grade APET for extruded waste pipes, PE / EVA poly-foam shoe soles, Use of recycled polymer in cars and new electrical goods etc. Explanation of how the recycled polymer is used in each case.

Session 10 - Design for Recycling – to facilitate ease of recycling. Currently if a product is made from a number of different polymer materials or contains specific additives, it cannot be recycled and has to go to landfill.  If however the designer has a good understanding of material compatibility at the design stage, this will ensure that this does not happen and that the product can be recycled when it comes to its end of life. Material compatiblizer technology explained, examples of using Nylon and PP together with the use of chemical compatiblizers. Explanation of polymer families which are miscible, examples inc: HDPE / PET, HDPE / APET, PMMA / ABS, PC / ABS, etc.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
60 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
40 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Design for Recycling Project Assignment 40 % Week 9 1,2,5
2 Recycling Practical Practical Practical Evaluation 20 % Week 6 2,3,4

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Polymer Recycling Final Exam Closed Book Exam 40 % End of Semester 1,2,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory Practicals 8 Once Per Semester 0.53
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 0.53 Hours

Online Learning Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Not Specified Online Lecture 1 Weekly 1.00
Total Online Learning Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 1.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2016-11-09 Recycling of Polymers: Methods, Characterization and Applications Wiley VCH
ISBN 3527338489 ISBN-13 9783527338481
Required Reading
2002-08-29 Handbook of Plastics Recycling Smithers Rapra Technology
ISBN 1859573258 ISBN-13 9781859573259

Over the past 20 years recycling of plastics has increased dramatically. This is important not only from the environmental point of view (less landfill space is needed) but also from the economic point of view because recycling allows energy and materials to be reused. This book discusses some of the state-of-the-art techniques of recycling post-consumer plastic materials and focuses on mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and energy recovery. This book is intended for all those who are interested in recycling of post consumer plastic waste. Although, this book discusses technical aspects of recycling, the Authors have endeavoured to make this book easily understandable to anyone interested in the subject. This book enables the reader to gain a thorough grounding in all the subjects discussed and each chapter has a bibliography to allow follow up of subjects of interest. This book provides an invaluable resource for those already working in the field or for those just starting out in recycling.

Required Reading
2003-02-06 Plastics and the Environment John Wiley & Sons
ISBN 0471095206 ISBN-13 9780471095200

Module Resources

Journal Resources

International Polymer Processing

Editor: Polymer Processing Society

URL Resources


Other Resources

Mould Flow software and CES Edu Pack for materials selection and case studies are available through our online system.

Additional Information