The Ecological Systems Design Group at the Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich is an internationally leading research group in the field of modeling, analyzing and improving the resource efficiency and environmental performance of products and processes, new technologies, and consumption patterns from a systems perspective. We offer a friendly and professional working environment, and are inviting applications for the Ph.D. position further described below.
Ph.D. Position on Material Flow Analysis and Design
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 model the Swiss national status-quo material flows of plastics, based on previous work, and enhance the detail of these flows with a particular focus on four types of plastics (PET, PE, PP and PS). On this basis, you will complete an in-depth analysis of the current environmental impacts of plastic recycling practices by coupling material flow analysis with life cycle assessment. In addition, you will develop a dynamic model to project plastic flows and associated environmental impacts in responses to various future scenarios of plastic recycling practices. Finally, together with the other Ph.D. student on chemical analysis and human exposure modeling, you will develop recommendations for future plastic recycling strategies to maximize resource efficiencies with minimized environmental impacts and human risks to hazardous chemicals.

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, consisting of another Ph.D. student and two researchers. The team will work closely with an advisory board of governmental and industrial representatives.

Your qualifications should include a master level university degree in environmental engineering, environmental sciences or similar studies with excellent grades. Experience with modeling, programming, and environmental assessment tools is highly appreciated. German skills would be highly beneficial to facilitate the interaction with local industry. Your employment will be contracted according to standard regulations at ETH (funding secured for 3 years). The project will start in March 2018 or upon mutual agreement. You are expected to contribute to the teaching and research activity of the chair up to a maximum of 20% of your working time.

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas and contact details of two referees. We will start interviewing candidates at the beginning of February. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the Ecological Systems Design Group please visit our website Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Stefanie Hellweg, Hellweg[at], Dr. Zhanyun Wang,[at], or Melanie Haupt, Haupt[at] (no applications).