Plastic waste, no problem!
Plastic engineer can make a difference to the environmental impacts by clever design aiming to long-life-time products and by choosing recyclable materials.
Energy and materials technology department is participating in the research activities aiming to improve the utilization of plastic rejects by material recycling together with the leading Finnish companies and universities in the field. Plastic industry currently utilizes most of its process waste as a material or in own energy production, but there is still some R&D&I to do in the field of post-consumption plastics (such as packaging materials etc).
When burned, our everyday plastics release typically higher amount of energy per unit mass than the wood-logs we burn in fireplaces in our homes! So, plastic waste is ideal for end-of-life utilization in the energy-production plants, where it is replacing virgin fossil fuel resources such as coal and natural gas. In the modern waste-energy plants heat and electricity is produced, and the emissions to air are nothing compared to the old-fashioned energy-plants (using coal/gas/wood) because of the required extra-purification of the exhaust gases. The so far largest Finnish waste-to-energy-plant is currently under construction in Vantaa and it should be starting next year.
Mirja Andersson / Senior Lecturer