Catalytic conversion of waste plastics: Focus on waste PVC

Mark A. Keane

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Effective waste management must address waste reduction, reuse, recovery/ recycling and, as the least progressive option, waste treatment. The increase in plastic waste production is a serious environmental issue. Plastics consumption continues to grow and while plastic recycling has seen a significant increase since the early 1990s, consumption still far exceeds recycling. Waste plastic can, however, serve as a potential resource and, with the correct treatment, can be reused or serve as hydrocarbon raw material or as a fuel. PVC, highly versatile with many applications, is non-biodegradable and has a high C1 content (56% of the total weight). Waste PVC incineration is highly energy demanding and can result in the formation of toxic chloro-emissions with adverse ecological, environmental and public health impacts. The Cl component must be removed from any waste PVC derived gas or oil before it can be used. An overview of the existing waste plastic treatment technologies is provided with an analysis of the available literature on thermal and catalytic PVC degradation. Thermal degradation results in random scissioning of the polymer chains generating products with varying molecular weights and uncontrolled Cl content. There is a dearth of literature dealing with the catalytic dechlorination of PVC. A case study is presented to illustrate the role heterogeneous catalysis can play in PVC waste treatment. The efficacy of Pd/Al2O3 to promote PVC dechlorination is demonstrated, where a significant decrease (by up to a factor of 560) in the liquid fraction Cl content is recorded in addition to differences (relative to thermal degradation) in the gas phase product, i.e. higher C1-C4 content with preferential alkane formation. © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-795
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


  • Catalytic dechlorination
  • Pd catalyst
  • PVC recycling
  • PVC waste


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