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ENGR 100.310:  Recycling and Repurposing of Plastics (ChE)


Johannes Schwank (ChE),

Karen Springsteen (TechComm)

Fall Term

“I’m trying to instill in the students this sense of first giving them a global overview of what the technology problems are, then…ok, what can we do with polymers and how can we make something out of it, and then challenge them and say, now do something with this.” 

– Johannes Schwank, Faculty

Course Description:

Plastics are everywhere. The chemical industry produces millions tons of plastic every year. We use plastics to make electronics, toys, water bottles, and other consumer products. But where does all this plastic end up? Some of it is in garbage piles, some of it is in landfills, but a lot of it is in our oceans. You will learn how plastics are made and how we can repurpose or recycle them. We’ll cover the following topics:

    • How plastics are synthesized and processed
    • The global plastic waste problem
    • Strategies for mitigating the plastics waste problem

Term Project

Conceptual design and prototyping of personal protective equipment made from recycled plastic


Synthesizing plastics, measuring polymer properties, polymer swelling and rheology, making bioplastics from plant starch

Students in lab attire smiling while looking at contents of beaker
Student in lab attire placing object under light
Three students in lab attire discussing results of lab experiment