Sustainable recycling of PET trays

  • Research project
André Heeres en Erik Keller bij ZAP Groningen.jpg

Plastic containers have become part of our daily lives. We often use these containers when we buy or want to preserve food. However, this also means that we use these containers only once and for a short period of time. After opening, we throw the containers away and they end up on a landfill site. This is harmful to our environment and a waste of resources. Therefore, this project aims to find alternative routes to recycle these materials.


Plastic is most often made of petroleum or crude oil, a fossil resource. The global supply of crude oil is large, but also exhaustive. It is estimated that the easily-reached oil supply lasts for only fifty years. At the same time, the demand for plastics increases. Plastics currently in use can be recycled and reused, if they are reprocessed properly.

Plastics consist of polymers. These are long chains of the same building blocks, similar to a chain link necklace. These links or building blocks are called monomers. Theoretically, polymers can be degraded into monomers or oligomers. The latter are a smaller group of monomers. After degradation, the monomers or oligomers can in turn be reused as building blocks for new polymers. This can be a similar kind of polymer, or a different kind by adding new monomers or other substances, thereby creating a new plastic.

The recycling of plastics is a vital method to meet the growing demand for plastics in the future. 

About this project

Meet our team

Fields of interest

  • Environment