Towards a better understanding of odor removal from post-consumer plastic film waste: A kinetic study on deodorization efficiencies with different washing media

Waste Manag. 2021 Feb 1;120:564-575. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2020.10.021. Epub 2020 Nov 1.


Mechanical recycling is to date the most commonly applied recycling technology. However, mechanical recycling of post-consumer plastics still faces many challenges, such as the presence of odorous constituents. Accordingly, recycling industry is looking for cost-effective solutions to improve the current washing efficiencies. However, scientific literature and basic understanding of deodorization processes are still scarce, which impedes efficient industrial optimization. Therefore, this study aims to obtain more fundamental insights in the deodorization mechanisms of plastic films in different washing media such as water, detergent, caustic soda, and ethyl acetate as organic solvent. The removal efficiencies of 19 odor components with a wide range of physicochemical properties were quantified via GC-MS analysis. The results revealed that deodorization depends on various factors such as temperature and physicochemical properties as polarity, volatility, and molecular weight of the odor components and the washing media. It was shown that polar washing media are less efficient compared to apolar media or media containing a detergent, achieving efficiencies of around 50% and 90%, respectively. The desorption processes can be accurately modeled by the isotherm model of Fritz-Schlunder in combination with a reversible first order kinetic model for the deodorization kinetics. Aspen Plus® process simulations of a water-based washing process reveal that at least 60% fresh water is needed to avoid saturation of the medium and undesired (re-)adsorption of odor components onto the plastics, which results in a substantial ecological footprint.

Keywords: Adsorption and desorption kinetics; Gas chromatography; Odor removal; Plastic films; Recycling.

MeSH terms

  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Kinetics
  • Odorants*
  • Plastics*
  • Recycling


  • Plastics