Sustainable Polymer Framework

A Framework for Defining Sustainable Polymer Research

The NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) recognizes that the field of sustainable polymers is a very active, broad, and diverse area of research. Moreover, there are social, industrial, and technical definitions, permutations, and uses of the word sustainable that can cloud the meaning of “sustainable polymer” research.

To that end, the CSP sought to holistically define a sustainable polymer. The purpose of this is to develop a tool that researchers can use to articulate and communicate the aspects of their individual research project that meet this definition. Our goal is to introduce an integrated systems-thinking approach that considers the interconnection of all sustainable polymer criteria and their potential impact across the environment, economy, and society.i

FEEDSTOCK

  • Renewable Feedstock
  • Waste Feedstock
  • Recycled Feedstock

Feedstock publications

PROCESS

  • Non-hazardous
  • Energy/resource efficient
  • Waste prevention

Process publications

INTENDED USE

  • Competitive properties
  • Economically viable
  • Safe-in-use

Intended use publications

END-OF-USE

  • Chemically recyclable
  • Biodegradable
  • Reprocessable

End-of-use publications

Researchers can associate their individual projects with one or more sub-categories, recognizing that they are not weighted equally; that is, there is not a direct correlation between the number of categories met and the sustainability of a polymer. Overall, the Sustainable Polymer Framework is meant to encourage focused advancement in fundamental research in the various sub-categories while maintaining a broader vision of the interconnected systems that define a sustainable polymer.

i Anastas, P. A. Beyond reductionism thinking in chemistry for sustainability. Trends in Chemistry, 2019, 1, 145–148.

FULL TEXT

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Overview Document

INFOGRAPHIC

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SPF Infographic

INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH, INTERCONNECTION, AND THE NET IMPACT ACROSS THE ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMY, AND SOCIETY

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