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Aoife Pucchio

Location: London, ON

Award: Young Canadians


Year: 2016


Styrofoam - A Problem We Need to (dis)-Solve

A passion for the environment inspired grade 11 student Aoife Pucchio to develop a prototype process for municipalities to efficiently transport waste Styrofoam to a centralized facility for recycling into a highly reusable plastic.

Pucchio focused on the issue of the ever increasing size and content of landfills, finding that Styrofoam accounts for approximately 30% of all content with a less than 1% recycle rate. She discovered that d-Limonene, an oil extracted from the rinds of citrus fruit, was able to dissolve 46 litres of Styrofoam into one litre of this readily available, cheap and natural oil. This would reduce the number of trucks needed to transport the waste from 131 to 4, reducing CO2 emissions from 32T to 1T. As an even further benefit, the dissolved Styrofoam can be removed from the d-Limonene in the form of a highly reusable, readily available plastic.