A preliminary social assessment of innovative management options for mixed and hazardous plastics waste

Conference Dates

June 5 – 10, 2022


Recyclability of plastics from waste of electric and electronic equipment (WEEE), end-of-life vehicles (ELV) and construction and demolition waste (C&DW) is a technological and economic challenge. It is complicated by their composition, which includes many polymers with high levels of contamination, as well as the large costs of treatments and the continuous evolution of the related legal framework (Ardolino et al., 2021; Cardamone et al. 2022). Innovative treatments able to remove contained contaminants, so generating secondary plastics of good quality and reducing adoption of improper strategies, were recently proposed in a H2020 project (Nontox, 2021). The good environmental performances of management schemes utilising these treatments for WEEE/ELV/C&DW plastics were quantified by means of Environmental Life Cycle Assessments (E-LCAs) as described by Ardolino et al. (2021) and Cardamone et al. (2022). The potential social impacts of these management schemes have been the focus of the preliminary Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) described in this study. It was developed in agreement with UNEP guidelines (2020) and ISO standards (ISO 14040-44). The analysis maintained the basic assumptions of the E-LCAs, in particular saving the management of WEEE/ELV/C&DW plastics annually collected in Europe as the functional unit. The current management scheme of each of them, including waste-to-energy (WtE) by combustion, sanitary landfilling and substandard options, were compared with the possible future scheme, implementing also innovative treatments of physical recycling (CreaSolv® and Extruclean), plastic upgrading and catalytic pyrolysis.

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