Doctoral student – High-value plastic recycling
ETH Zurich
Zürich, Switzerland  
vor 1 Std.
source : Academic Media Group International AB

Doctoral student High-value plastic recycling

The Global Health Engineering group in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering considers how engineered tools, the natural environment, organizational systems and human health are interconnected.

Our work looks at ways of reducing the negative impacts of modern life while addressing equity and social justice, particularly in urban areas of over-exploited countries.

Methodologically, we conduct applied research by working with interdisciplinary partners and relevant stakeholders, at the interface of engineering and economics.

Job description

Across the Global South, formal and informal recycling is common. However, few local businesses buy or sell plastics, preferring instead to deal in high-value metals or paper.

Plastic is bulky, requires cleaning, and is often bought seasonally, if at all. The recycled product is usually low quality due to impurities and dye.

Alternatively, donor-driven projects have been largely, tourist-focused (tchotchke) and of limited scale and value.

  • Working in collaboration with both formal and informal recyclers, our goal is to develop a) low-cost methods of plastics sorting to ensure purity at sorting;
  • b) water-efficient processes for plastics cleaning and drying; c) high value recycled products like (but not exclusively) 3D printer filament;
  • and d) a sustainable business model that can improve both the incentives for plastics collection and the livelihoods of plastics collectors.

    Your profile

    We are looking for an extraordinary candidate who is as committed to scientific discovery as she / he is to solid waste management.

    The ideal candidate will have :

  • A Masters degree in applied science or engineering
  • Experience with 3D printing
  • A passion for prototyping, design, and building experience : you like to make things
  • A willingness to travel and work alone in difficult conditions : you are not afraid of getting dirty
  • Demonstrated leadership skills and team management experience
  • A curious mind, a positive attitude, a love of research
  • Excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills : you can make a new plan when something goes wrong
  • Work experience in Sub-Saharan Africa and / or econometrics are attractive but not required.

    ETH Zurich

    ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society.

    Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence.

    Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


    We look forward to receiving your online application (in English) including :

  • A 1-page letter of motivation detailing previous research experience and relevant skills in field, lab and / or theoretical work
  • A CV including publications
  • A 1-page reflection addressing the relevance, legacy and future of international development research . Given the dynamic nature of this conversation, non-traditional references and links to videos / memes / blogs are encouraged
  • Contact details of 2 referees
  • Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

    The position will be open until a suitable candidate is found.

    Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Tilley by email at tilleye (no direct applications).

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