Internship | Polymer Recycling for Circular Economy



Education type

university (wo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

Packaging plastics have been instrumental in bringing the economic prosperity towards various sectors of the society, especially through its contribution towards food and beverage industry. The plastic packaging material value amounts to Euro 65–100 billion annually. However, because it is used mainly only once, only a little is recycled (14%) and recycling costs money, 95% of that value is lost to the economy after a short first use (2016). One of the major reasons for these plastics not to be recycled is that they are not single-component materials. Packaging plastics usually consist of several layers of polymers or additives are added to a base polymer material. These layers and additives are useful for adding functionalities such as UV resistance, food preservation, breathability etc. However, the strong bonding between these layers and additives makes it difficult to recycle the plastic. At TNO, we are testing the effect of different chemical based extraction technologies for separation of the base polymer(s) and the additive thus making reuse of the base polymer(s) possible. We target here the base polymer layer as it is the largest component by mass present in the packaging material.

Your challenge will be to experimentally test the various unit operations of this technology, scale up and design a conceptual process. You will optimize the extraction-filtration-precipitation steps at different conditions of pressure, temperature and compositions. If it is within your interest and time allows, there is an opportunity to perform a techno-economic comparison with other recycling process routes as well. The overall result of your project will contribute towards the identification of valorization opportunities for this technology in the circular economy within the Netherlands.

What do we require of you?

  • Background in chemical or process engineering.
  • Interest in experimental validation, conceptual process design and techno-economic comparison.
  • The ideal duration of the project is 9 months, but there are possibilities for shorter (3 to 6 months) projects as well.

What can you expect of your work situation?

You will be working in Sustainable Process and Energy Systems (SPES) Department, which works on processes and systems for energy storage, gas treatment, bio-based chemistry and electrochemistry. Your project will involve consulting across boundaries between different sectors of energy, process -polymer engineering, circularity, environmental science and economics.
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What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Contact: Rajat Bhardwaj
Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 63654

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


Apply now



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