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Recycling of Post-Consumer Resin (PCR) Plastics: A Capstone Project to Reduce Waste and Promote Future Recycling

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Conference

2020 ASEE North Central Section conference

Location

Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

May 20, 2020

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35744

Download Count

10

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Paper Authors

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Ashley Emily Lacy

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Emily Nottingham

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Betsy M. Aller Western Michigan University

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Betsy M. Aller is an associate professor in engineering management and manufacturing at Western Michigan University, where she coordinates capstone design project courses, and has developed and teaches a graduate course in project management and a course in manufacturing for sustainability. Dr. Aller’s research interests include professional development of students to enter and succeed in the engineering workplace, and enhancing engineering and technology-related experiences for women and minorities.

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Paul V. Engelmann Western Michigan University

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Dr. Paul V. Engelmann is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Management Systems (EDMMS) at Western Michigan University (WMU). He continues in the classroom as he has since 1983. He has written over 50 technical papers, articles and a book chapter on plastics processing and tooling. For the past decade and a half, he has turned much of his attention to systemic enhancement of student success in engineering education. in addition, since 1990 he has continued to work in the area of waste reduction and recycling of plastics. He holds his Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral degrees from WMU.

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Abstract

Abstract: Recycling of Post-Consumer Resin (PCR) Plastics While many plastics are recyclable, most single-use plastic products live out their end of life in the ocean, on the side of the road, or in landfills. This senior capstone project sought to create a simple process to reprocess single-use plastic waste. The process included methods for cleaning, sorting, and grinding plastic waste to make new injection molded products. Following extensive research on current plastic compositions and characteristics suitable for recycling, collection bins were placed throughout the cafeteria at the engineering college to gather used plastic utensils as well as pizza savers. Creative methods for cleaning food waste from collected items required design and fabrication of a new part for a donated dishwasher. This multidisciplinary senior design project pulled skills and experience from team members’ undergraduate programs as well as student professional organizations such as the Society of Plastics Engineers. Using knowledge and techniques gained, the team developed an efficient process to create injection molded flying discs made out of 100% recycled polypropylene (PP) single-use plastic food items that students had previously simply thrown away. The injection molding cavities used had been developed in a previous senior capstone project that had created flying discs; these flying discs are now used by the college to interest visiting K-12 students in engineering and in the university. The end goal for this project was not only to divert a fair amount of the college’s plastic waste from ending up in a landfill, but to create a process going forward to educate and excite students and guests about recycling.

Lacy, A. E., & Nottingham, E., & Aller, B. M., & Engelmann, P. V. (2020, March), Recycling of Post-Consumer Resin (PCR) Plastics: A Capstone Project to Reduce Waste and Promote Future Recycling Paper presented at 2020 ASEE North Central Section conference, Morgantown, West Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/35744

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