Perspectives on thermochemical recycling of end-of-life plastic wastes to alternative fuels

Sonil Nanda, Tumpa R. Sarker, Kang Kang, Dongbing Li, Ajay K. Dalai

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Due to its resistance to natural degradation and decomposition, plastic debris perseveres in the environment for centuries. As a lucrative material for packing industries and consumer products, plastics have become one of the major components of municipal solid waste today. The recycling of plastics is becoming difficult due to a lack of resource recovery facilities and a lack of efficient technologies to separate plastics from mixed solid waste streams. This has made oceans the hotspot for the dispersion and accumulation of plastic residues beyond landfills. This article reviews the sources, geographical occurrence, characteristics and recyclability of different types of plastic waste. This article presents a comprehensive summary of promising thermochemical technologies, such as pyrolysis, liquefaction and gasification, for the conversion of single-use plastic wastes to clean fuels. The operating principles, drivers and barriers for plastic-to-fuel technologies via pyrolysis (non-catalytic, catalytic, microwave and plasma), as well as liquefaction and gasification, are thoroughly discussed. Thermochemical co-processing of plastics with other organic waste biomass to produce high-quality fuel and energy products is also elaborated upon. Through this state-of-the-art review, it is suggested that, by investing in the research and development of thermochemical recycling technologies, one of the most pragmatic issues today, i.e., plastics waste management, can be sustainably addressed with a greater worldwide impact.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4563
Number of pages29
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2023


  • catalysts
  • clean fuels
  • co-processing
  • gasification
  • liquefaction
  • microwave
  • plasma
  • plastics
  • pyrolysis
  • recycling


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