The Challenge

Ireland is the EU’s largest producer of plastic waste per capita, generating 61 kg per person/year and less than 30% of this is recycled; the rest is buried in landfills or incinerated, having severe ramifications for the climate. A traditional linear economy following the principle of ‘take, make and waste’ is not sustainable and alternative waste-management solutions must become a top priority for EU countries. Carbon recovery from plastics via thermal treatment under anoxic conditions (without oxygen) is over 50% meaning that at least half of the carbon contained in plastics can be recovered and consequently far less CO2 would be released to the atmosphere, compared to presently used incineration methods. In addition to plastic waste management, energy storage is one of the most pressing global issues of today. The rapid adaptation of portable and wearable electronics and electric vehicles, as well as market forecasts which suggest that the global rechargeable battery market will be valued at $87.5 billion by 2027, clearly indicate that there will be a prolonged need for cost effective battery electrode materials for the foreseeable future.