Dr Salman Raza Naqvi (Associate Professor NUST School of Chemical & Materials Engineering and Director National Science & Technology Park) in collaboration with Dr Jiawei Wang (Senior lecturer, Department of Chemical engineering and Applied Chemistry, Aston University) has won 12,000 GBP (2.8 Million PKR) research grant for the project, “The application of machine learning in the chemical recycling of plastic waste”.

The team from Aston University, UK includes, Dr Jiawei Wang, Dr Xi Yu, (Lecturer) and Dr Huan Xiang, (Postdoc Research Fellow). The team members from NUST are Dr Asif Hussain Khoja (Assistant Professor, U.S. Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy), Dr M Nouman Aslam Khan (Assistant Professor, SCME) and Mr Jawad Gul (Ph.D. candidate).

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century. The improper management of plastic waste not only contaminates the environment but also signifies an immense loss of economic value. Globally, the energy savings for plastic waste recycling are estimated to be 3.5 billion barrels of oil, equivalent to about £130 billion dollars. In the UK, the Plastics Pact by the Waste and Resources Action Programme sets the target as 70% of plastics packaging wastes to be recycled or composted by 2025. Pakistan has the highest percentage of mismanaged plastic in South Asia. Nearly 70 % of the colossal plastic waste ends in landfills and unmanaged dumps. Several chemical recycling routes have been developed to tackle the plastic waste issue. Among them, pyrolysis is favoured because of the high rates of conversion into liquid products. Additionally, the gas produced from pyrolysis has a high caloric value and may be used as fuel in the process. In the view of a circular economy, however, liquid fuel production from plastic waste does not close the loop of the life of plastics. It is a better option to produce chemicals and even monomers from plastic waste.

The proposed project will develop a novel process to produce value-added chemicals from plastic waste. The success of the project will contribute to solving plastic pollution problems in both the UK and Pakistan.