There exists a number of techniques that have been developed into well-established technologies to recover chemicals and fuel from plastics. The objective has always been twofold: to recover valuable chemical products from polymeric materials deemed as waste, and to have a large proportion of these chemicals to represents a fuel mix that can replace fossil-based fuels. In this chapter, a very comprehensive review is given to such technologies at various scales, where plastics are used as a feedstock material to produce valuable chemicals and fuels.
The majority of these techniques have been developed into well-established technologies. On the other hand, some are still at research and development stages to date. The chapter serves as a guide to these technologies, taking the reader into the major concepts and principles of how plastic materials can degrade to such chemicals. The chapter also starts with a guide to some of the major concepts typically encountered in this field of work. These include heating values and energy content. This is done to give the reader a comprehensive view of the description of these methods which will be encountered in later stages of this book.
To describe these technologies and major recovery techniques, the plastic solid waste management hierarchy is also detailed. This was done to convey the main routes of recovery for plastic materials, and to show how these technologies can serve as a route for fuel recovery via thermo-chemical and thermal means.