Environmental and Economic Analyses of Chemical Recycling via Dissolution of Waste Polyethylene Terephthalate

Document Type


Publication Date



Globally, more than 1000 organizations and 175 nations are facing the plastic waste problem and have realized the need to transition from “linear-to-circular” economy of plastics. While the current mechanical recycling technologies for plastics are struggling to increase the U.S. plastic recycling rates beyond 9%, chemical recycling technologies become important complementary technologies to the predominant mechanical recycling that are needed to realize the circular economy in plastics supply chains. Dissolution is one such chemical recycling technology that can recycle waste plastic back into high-quality virgin grade plastic. However, the environmental and economic impacts of chemical recycling of waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET) via dissolution technology using a green solvent are unknown. Our study evaluated environmental metrics such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cumulative energy demand, and economic metrics such as net present value (NPV), minimum selling price, payback period, return on investment, and discounted internal rate of return for three dissolution processes with polymer recovery via anti-solvent, evaporation, and cooling precipitation techniques. The dissolution process with evaporation technique was the most economically favorable, whereas that with cooling technique was the most environmentally favorable. The anti-solvent approach had low economic performance and the highest environmental impacts. The NPV for all of these technologies ranged from $2.67 MM to $10.93 MM for a capacity of 8,400 MT/year and was found to be the highest for dissolution with evaporation approach and the least for anti-solvent approach. The cradle-to-gate GHG emissions and energy demand for PET dissolution processes ranged from 1.33-3.77 kg CO2 -eq/kg of chemically recycled (CR) PET and 18.9-56.1 MJ/kg of CR-PET, respectively. These economic and environmental metrics will be helpful in evaluating the sustainability of circular PET supply chains in the U.S.

Publication Title

Technology Innovation for the Circular Economy: Recycling, Remanufacturing, Design, System Analysis and Logistics


[9781394214297, 9781394214266]

This document is currently not available here.