Integrated Plastics Recycling at UC Berkeley

Integrated Plastics Recycling at UC Berkeley

Project Leads: Scott Silva and Jenny Chiu

Project Sponsor: Zero Waste Research Center (ZWRC)

TGIF Grant: $35,000

Project Theme: Waste Diversion and Reduction

Application Submission

Project Description: The Zero Waste Research Center (ZWRC) at UC Berkeley has been working to create the first Plastics Recycling Research Facility at UC Berkeley over the past four years. This research facility, located at the Richmond Field Station, north of Berkeley, will process the University’s plastic and recycling waste through proper collection, sorting, and redistribution. This project will allow for the UC Berkeley to expand recycling and reuse programs, reduce its carbon footprint, and create research and education opportunities for students and the community of Richmond. The team is working to incorporate 3-D printing into the project by reprocessing our plastic waste into 3-D printing filament. This project will be one of the first of its kind, and will greatly improve recycling efforts on university-wide and local levels. This project reduces the quantity of waste going to landfill from UC Berkeley by approximately 20-30%, as the University is unable to recycle #3-6 plastic. Student associates will work in the Plastics Recovery Research Facility sorting and processing plastic material, under the supervision of SERC and Cal Zero Waste staff. Once processing is finished, plastic pellet feedstock will be sent to business partners to use to make end products.

Project Goals:

The main goal of this project is to assist the University in Zero Waste by 2020 via the assistance of oncampus plastics recycling through a circular model. This includes

  1. Highlight the externalities and problems associated plastic waste recycling on an industrial scale
  2. Identify ways in which we can better our waste processing mechanisms to reduce environmental impacts and improve cost-effectiveness
  3. Explain methodologies on how to better improve mechanical recycling procedures by making them cost-effective and attainable
  4. Create a life cycle analysis for campus waste services and procurement in order to make management decisions that best model the University’s sustainability goals, such as Zero Waste by 2020 and the Carbon Neutrality Initiative