This Ph.D. position is part of the new research project “Clean Cycle – Optimizing Resource Efficiency while Preventing Pollutant Exposure Through Plastics Recycling in Switzerland” co-funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), and Zurich Cantonal Office for Waste, Water, Energy and Air (AWEL). The main goal of the project is to assess current and future human risks to pollutants contained in recycled plastics and provide recommendations for future plastic recycling strategies that maximize resource efficiencies with minimized human risks. In your Ph.D. thesis, you will develop a framework for the identification, prioritization and analysis of hazardous chemicals contained in plastic fractions, recycled plastics and plastic recyclables, based on existing and own screening measurements and modeling work. On this basis, you will complete an in-depth chemical analysis of target hazardous chemicals in selected plastic fractions, recycled plastics and plastic recyclables to obtain a thorough understanding of hazardous chemicals currently contained in the plastic flows in Switzerland. Finally, together with the Ph.D. student on material flow analysis and design, you will further model the current levels of human exposure to target hazardous chemicals via plastics and associated risks, as well as possible changes in human exposure to hazardous chemicals in response to future recycling scenarios.
An integral part of your work is publishing your results in peer-reviewed journals and presenting them at international conferences. The work will be carried out in an interdisciplinary team at the Ecological Systems Design Group, in close collaboration with Département de l’environnement, des transports et de l’agriculture (DETA), Canton Geneva, and Prof. Dr. Martin Scheringer (D-USYS, ETH Zurich). The team will consist of another Ph.D. student and two researchers. The team will work closely with an advisory board of governmental and industrial representatives.