University of Limerick wins funding to tackle scourge of plastic waste

Jess Casey

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Jess Casey

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jess.casey@limerickleader.ie

University of Limerick researchers win funding to tackle scourge of plastic waste

Dr Walter Stanley, Dr Subramani Pichandi and Rachel Kennedy, of the Irish Composites Centre (IComp), at the UL Bernal Institute

RESEARCHERS at the University of Limerick believe they can tackle the scourge of plastic bottle waste, by recycling single-use bottles into composites to be turned into car and tractor parts. 

Researchers at the Irish Composites Centre (IComp), at the UL Bernal Institute, believe technology developed by the centre could see thousands of plastic bottles being converted in useful products. 

The technology developed by IComp turns wasted bottles into a high tensile fibre that can be woven into a fabric, used in the vehicle production industry, according to Dr Walter Stanley of IComp. 

“If successfully commercialised, this project would turn plastic bottles into a valuable raw material and stimulate greater recycling,” Dr Stanley said. 

“It would lead to incentives for better plastic collection and separation and therefore less littering, general pollution and incineration.”

This week, IComp received funding from Enterprise Ireland and the Environmental Protection Agency to further its research. 

“Ireland is currently the biggest producer of plastic waste in the European Union, with an average of 61 kg produced each year per person,” Dr Stanley said. 

“A large proportion of this plastic is made up of single-use plastic bottles which, apart from polluting the landscape and seascape visually, also degrade over time and leach in the environment, creating many downstream problems for nature, animals and humans.”

IComp was set up in 2010 under the EI/IDA Technology Centres initiative. 

Hosted by UL, IComp is a partnership between UL, University College Dublin (UCD), Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and NUI Galway (NUIG).