It can be found along roadsides, in rivers, and accumulating in massive patches in the world’s oceans—the deluge of plastic waste cluttering the environment is a growing threat to ecosystems.
Recycling may be a way to stem the tide, but current limits in technology and resources means plastics recycling lags far behind the amount of waste of being produced. It’s a problem Troy University’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences is looking to address head on.
Dr. Govind Menon, Director of the School of Science and Technology, appeared before a U.S. House science subcommittee on April 30 to discuss how TROY’s new center will seek to expand recycling to meet the growing challenge of plastic waste.
Menon described the current plastics recycling industry as operating well below capacity, with only about 9-percent of all plastic being recycled in the U.S. The industry faces several challenges, including the need for technology to increase the kinds of plastics that can be recycled and innovations to make the process more cost efficient.
Menon said TROY will address these challenges by bringing industry and higher ed together.
“The nearly zero carbon footprint of plastics recycling must be scaled up to meet the demands of global waste reduction,” Menon said. “Ultimately the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences at Troy University will identify, develop and implement solutions to the problems in contemporary plastics recycling by linking academics, industry and the community.”
TROY received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in September to launch the new center, which will serve as an integrated, multi-disciplinary research facility and will enable the University to build partnerships with the region’s polymer and plastics industry in order to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace.
The April 30 hearing, titled “Closing the Loop: Emerging Technologies in Plastics Recycling,” was the first U.S. House Science Committee hearing on recycling in a decade.
Listen to Dr. Menon’s full testimony here: