PhD Candidate for Life Cycle Assessment of Plastic Recycling

Nijmegen, Netherlands
14 Mar 2023
End of advertisement period
10 Apr 2023
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Physics & Astronomy
Contract Type
Full Time
Are you interested in the circular economy and want to quantify and understand the environmental benefits of recycling plastic household waste? Then join our environmental science group for a four-year PhD position focused on quantifying environmental impacts related to alternative sorting strategies of Dutch plastic household waste. Join an interactive interdisciplinary team of researchers and waste treatment professionals, and help solve environmental sustainability challenges.

This PhD position is part of the NWO Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) MUNITION project involving a broad consortium of Radboud University, Wageningen University, various waste treatment and plastic sorting companies, as well as local and national governments and societal stakeholders. MUNITION aims to quantify the effects of alternative Dutch national plastic household waste sorting policies on the recycling potential and corresponding environmental impacts including material quality for recycling of resulting plastic recycling systems.

You will contribute to this consortium by quantifying and comparing environmental impacts of the alternative plastic household waste recycling systems using pre-sorting (at the household level) or post-sorting (at sorting facilities). You will develop and apply life cycle assessments (LCAs) of products contributing to plastic household waste and the waste treatment/recycling strategies themselves. You will then assess the impacts of these strategies at system level, considering reduced virgin plastic production, substituted products using recycled plastic, energy production from waste, ultimately leading to reduced environmental impacts and fossil fuel use. The environmental impact assessment of pre-sorting and post-sorting of plastic household waste scenarios will differentiate between regional waste collection systems in the Netherlands and consider the changing effects of waste collection strategies over time (e.g. in product development or consumer behaviour). Environmental impacts to be considered are a combination of what is known as 'mid-point categories' (e.g. climate change, particulate matter formation, and land use) and 'end-point categories' (human health, ecosystem damage and resource depletion).

You will work in an interdisciplinary team of experts at the academic forefront of innovative LCA development, while also yielding tangible results to have a direct sustainability impact on society through cooperation with the public and private waste treatment partners in the MUNITION project. Your teaching load may be up to 10% of your working time.