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Smart Recycling: Data-driven optimisation of post-consumer HDPE recyclate

11 Sep 2024
Circular Economy & Sustainability Stage - JUNO

As the demand for sustainable packaging grows, the use of post-consumer resin (PCR) high-density polyethylene (HDPE) faces challenges due to its often inferior performance compared to virgin HDPE. This talk brings together expertise from the University of Manchester, Unilever and Bright Green, exploring the importance and benefits of co-created research between industry and academia in tackling global challenges.

The panel will discuss their collaborative research project, which focuses on data-driven selection of suitable PCR for specific applications, presenting the most extensive characterisation of HDPE PCR to date. A dataset of 23 HDPE resins, including 3 virgin and 20 PCR samples, underwent comprehensive analysis using FTIR, DSC, TGA, rheology, colour analysis, and mechanical testing. Data science was applied to create a feature-rich dataset, demonstrating the effectiveness of combining FTIR, TGA, and mechanical testing in identifying PCRs closely matching the properties of virgin HDPE. The panel will explore how this research can provide a robust methodology for assessing new PCRs as replacements for virgin plastic in specific applications, advancing sustainable packaging in the industry.

Jonathan Attwood - Bright Green
Tom O.McDonald - University of Manchester