Collaborating to Pilot an Innovative Plastics Recycling Program for South Dakota and Beyond

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Recycling of plastic waste has the potential to produce sustainable outcomes for society including: (1) reduction in the flow of slow-to-degrade waste to landfills and the environment; and (2) decreasing demand for petroleum products. USD Sustainability Capstone (SUST 489) students are participating in a novel collaborative project with the Dakota Research and Consulting Organization (DRACO) and engineering students at SD Mines. The EcoForged project involves a mobile recycling system that processes plastic waste and produces construction materials for the community. USD students are working on aspects of a pilot project deploying the system across South Dakota. We will present a panel providing a progress report on our work including: (A) determining what recycling centers in South Dakota are currently doing with their plastic recyclables; (B) an analysis of how DRACO can effectively prioritize Indigenous inclusion throughout the development and implementation of the EcoForged project while avoiding potentially unintentional, unjust consequences; (C) GIS mapping to determine an ideal route for the EcoForged project to utilize, based on what areas in South Dakota may have a need or interest in the technology; (D) compiling regulations pertinent to extruded construction materials, and identifying potential community uses of these materials that would motivate EcoForged participation; and (E) generating a learning module for high school students and general public groups that explores the plastic waste problem and how the EcoForged project will help with reducing plastic waste.

First Advisor

Brennan Jordan

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