- PRCOE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CHASE, Austria in the areas of digital twin technology, process intensification and circular process streams.
- PRCOE also signed MOUs with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) Germany and its Asian campus, TUM Asia, covering skills training and collaborations in the mechanical recycling of high-volume plastic wastes, the processability of quality recyclate pellets, and the achievement of a higher circularity of plastics.
- Also signed was an MOU with APC Yellow, Singapore and Fraunhofer IME, Germany which is designed to test-bed and scale-up of degradation and valorisation of plastic wastes streams via insect-associated microorganisms. This also leverages on recombinant techniques to produce enzymes, which are most effective in plastic degradation. This approach has the potential to become a circular and sustainable business, involving a new and innovative way to recycle plastics. It involves plastic degradation processes with endproducts that emulate natural biological cycles of nature. Moreover, the microbial depolymerization is an attractive process that may result into products entering circular production cycles, and the products can be used as precursors to produce other valuable materials for industrial purposes. The use of insect enzymes for degradation of plastics is encompassed in a new field of science referred to as “yellow biotechnology”.
- Another MOU, with the Centre for Biocomposites and Biomaterials Processing at the University of Toronto, Canada, entails research and development of renewable bio-based plastics to provide alternatives to the current fossil fuel derived plastics.
- In partnership with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway, PRCOE will study the life cycle assessment and carbon foot-print of plastics and products with data collected and curated for Singapore as well as ASEAN conditions.
Plastic Waste Challenges of Singapore
Singapore Green Plan 2030 as well as the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment’s Towards Zero Waste master plan prioritise three waste streams namely electronic waste, food waste, and packaging waste which includes plastics. Plastic waste is heterogeneous, and commingled with diverse materials. Among all the waste streams of Singapore, plastics have the lowest recycling rate which is about four percent. Hence, a range of solutions are necessary to enhance and accelerate the plastics recycling rate in Singapore.
Waste-to-energy via incineration produces useful energy but also unwanted emissions. Proponents argue that the waste-to-energy method prevents landfills from filling up and generates useful energy. Opponents argue that this method releases heat-trapping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and serves as a disincentive to recycle. Hence ideally suited for disposing only the final remnants of trash after all recyclable materials have been extracted. Recycling plants require substantial investments yet do not offer the benefit of producing energy for use. In other words, next generation sorting facilities will facilitate the conversion of domestic waste into new products.
Mechanical recycling and chemical recycling are complimentary methods for closing the plastics loop. For effective recycling, identification, sorting and segregation of plastic waste are necessary. Water marking or digital marking or molecular labeling of plastics is a good solution. Fourth industrial revolution technologies such as robotics, automation, block chain, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, digital twins, sensors, internet of things, additive manufacturing (3D manufacturing), modeling & simulation, and nanotechnology further strengthens the waste management practices. They are to be augmented with eco-friendly design of products, enhancing materials efficiency of products, sourcing plastics from renewable and local sources, additives free plastics, zero-negative health effects plastics, recycling and upcycling of plastics so as to lower the carbon foot print of plastics. In order to achieve highest circularity of plastics with low carbon footprint, deep research and innovations in terms of reimagining atoms and molecules, as well as harnessing nanoscience, single atom science, and quantum science are envisaged.