Method to develop potential business cases of plastic recycling from urban areas: nonhousehold end-use plastic film waste in Belgium

Irdanto Saputra Lase, Regina Frei, Mengfeng Gong, Diego Alfonso Vazquez-Brust, Evelien Peeters, Geert Roelans, Jo Dewulf, Kim Ragaert, Steven De Meester

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Waste management of non-household end-use plastic waste receives considerably less attention compared to household waste. This article develops and applies a cost-benefit analysis model to develop potential business cases for selective collection and mechanical recycling scenarios of non-household end-use plastic film waste from urban areas considering the City of Ghent in
Belgium and twelve municipalities nearby as a case study. Three different collection frequencies (weekly, fortnightly, monthly) and two different mechanical recycling plant layouts (basic and advanced configuration) are considered. Data on waste quantity, composition, and economic parameters are collected from real sampling from urban areas combined with information from literature. In the most favorable scenarios, results show that the annual costs of collecting and
recycling are estimated to be in the range of €635–€1,445/tonne output, depending on the collection frequencies and plant configurations. Mechanical recycling yields 48–77% regranulates, depending on the plant configuration and feedstock quality. Scale is essential for plastic recycling plants development; a positive net economic balance (ranging from €5–€537/tonne output) is achieved when at least 10,500 tonnes/year of waste is collected (fortnightly or monthly) and processed. The recycling systems become economically more effective as the processing capacity increases. It is imperative to maintain high feedstock quality as the recycling systems become economically less favorable when the residue content in the collected plastic film waste exceeds 30–35%. A greenhouse gas emissions calculation indicates minimizing residue and promoting high-quality feedstock from collected waste are the key to increasing the carbon footprint savings of recycling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12677–12694
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering Journal
Issue number34
Early online date15 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2023


  • business cases
  • cost-benefit analysis
  • nonhousehold end-use plastic film waste
  • urban areas
  • carbon footprint

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