Recycling of Plastics

NAME OF THE COURSE Recycling of Plastics



Year of study


Course teacher

Prof Matko Erceg

Credits (ECTS)


Associate teachers

Type of instruction (number of hours)






Status of the course


Percentage of application of e-learning

0 %


Course objectives

- rising awareness and knowledge about the necessity of plastics recycling
- understanding of modern methods of plastic recycling
- implementation of the adopted basic knowledge in finding optimal solutions for recycling of plastics

Course enrolment requirements and entry competences required for the course


Learning outcomes expected at the level of the course (4 to 10 learning outcomes)

After passing the exam, the student is expected to be able to:
- explain and argue the importance of plastics for sustainable development
- categorize the sources of plastic waste
- explain the importance of sorting plastic waste
- propose and implement a procedure for sorting plastic waste
- explain the basic characteristics of the mechanical, chemical and energy recovery of plastics
- choose the optimal method of waste recovery given its composition

Course content broken down in detail by weekly class schedule (syllabus)

1st week: Introduction. The nomenclature of the polymer. The classification of polymers. Polymerization (step-growth, chain). Methods of polymerization.
2nd week: The structure of the polymer: bonds, configurations and conformations of polymers. The physical state of the polymer-thermomechanical curves. Mechanisms of polymer degradation.
3rd week: Polymers and sustainable development. Life cycle stages of plastic. Additives for polymers. Ecological aspects of polymer additives (examples: heat stabilizers and plasticizers for poly(vinyl chloride)).
4th week: Polymer processing procedures (extrusion, injection molding). Environmental burden at the stage of processing of polymers.
5th week: World, European and Croatian plastics industry - statistical data. Types of plastic waste.
6th week: Plastics waste in household, automotive, construction, electric, electronic, agriculture and distribution. Recycling of plastic waste and sustainable development.
7th week: Material recovery (recycling). Homogeneous and heterogeneous plastic waste. The collection and identification of plastic waste.
8th week: Sorting of plastic waste: float-sink method, supercritical fluids method, air classification, hydrocyclon classification, optical sorting method, infrared spectroscopy method.
9th week: Sorting of plastic waste: X-ray fluorescence (XRF) method, electrostatic classification method, sorting by melting temperature, sorting by selective dissolution.
10th week: Reduction of plastic waste: granulators, mills, shredders, apparatus for agglomeration and compacting, mills (turbo mill, disks), cryogenic milling, shear extrusion in the solid state, chemical fragmentation.
11th week: Plants for recycling homogeneous and heterogeneous plastic waste.
12th week: Chemical recycling of plastic waste (examples, plants): depolymerization processes (hydrolysis, alcoholysis, glycolysis, acidolysis, aminolysis), thermolysis processes (gasification, pyrolysis, hydrogenation)
13th week: Energy recovery of plastic waste: burning on the mechanical stoker incinerator, incineration in rotary kilns, fluidized-bed combustion.
14th week: Waste disposal and landfill. Behavior of plastic waste in landfills. The management of plastic waste.
15th week: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA method). Conclusions.
Exercises: Manual sorting of packaging plastic waste, Sorting of plastic waste by float-sink method, Sorting of plastic waste using infrared spectroscopy, Separation of poly (vinyl chloride) and poly (ethylene terephthalate), Effect of repeated recycling of the thermal properties of polymers, Chemical recycling of poly (ethylene terephthalate) by glycolysis, Recycling of expanded polystyrene.

Format of instruction:

Student responsibilities

Attending lectures in the 80% amount, and laboratory exercises in the 100% amount of the total number of lessons.

Screening student work (name the proportion of ECTS credits for eachactivity so that the total number of ECTS credits is equal to the ECTS value of the course):

Class attendance




Practical training


Experimental work







Seminar essay






Oral exam




Written exam






Grading and evaluating student work in class and at the final exam

Continuous evaluation:
The entire exam can be passed over two colloquium during the semester. Pass threshold for each colloquium is 50%. Each colloquium participates with 35% in a final grade. Laboratory exercises (50-100% success) participate with 20% in a final grade, while attending lectures in 80-100% amount is 10% of a final grade.
Final evaluation:
One passed colloquium (previous activity) is recognized as 10% of a final grade. The remaining part is taken on written and oral exam at prescribed examination terms. Written exam accounts for 30%, oral exam for 40%, while laboratory exercises account for 20% of a final grade, respectively.
Students who did not take or pass colloquiums take written and oral exam at prescribed examination terms. Passing threshold is 50%. Written exam accounts for 40%, oral exam for 40%, while laboratory exercises account for 20% of a final grade, respectively.
Grades definitions and percentages: sufficient (50-61%), good (62-74%), very good (75-87%), excellent (88-100%).

Required literature (available in the library and via other media)


Number of copies in the library

Availability via other media

M. Šercer, D. Opsenica, G Barić, Oporaba plastike i gume, Mtg topograf d.o.o., Velika Gorica, 2000.;


A. Azapagić, A. Emsley; I. Hamerton, Polymers, The Environment and Sustainable Development, Wiley, 2003.


J. Scheirs, Polymer Recycling: Science, Technology and Applications, John Wiley&Sons, Chichester, 1998.


Optional literature (at the time of submission of study programme proposal)

L. Lundquist, Y. Leterrier, P. Sunderland, J.E. Manson, Life Cycle Engineering of Plastics, Elsevier, Oxford, 2000.; A. L. Andrady, Plastics and the Environment, Wiley-Interscience, 2003.; M. Črnjak, K. Črnjar, Menadžment održivog razvoja, AKD, Zagreb, 2009.

Quality assurance methods that ensure the acquisition of exit competences

Quality assurance will be performed at three levels:
(1) University Level;
(2) Faculty Level by Quality Control Committee;
(3) Lecturer’s Level.

Other (as the proposer wishes to add)