PhD Candidate for Life Cycle Assessment of Plastic Recycling

1.0 FTE
Gross monthly salary
€ 2,541 - € 3,247
Required background
Research University Degree
Organizational unit
Faculty of Science
Application deadline
Are you interested in the circular economy and want to quantify and understand the environmental benefits of recycling plastic household waste? Then join our environmental science group for a four-year PhD position focused on quantifying environmental impacts related to alternative sorting strategies of Dutch plastic household waste. Join an interactive interdisciplinary team of researchers and waste treatment professionals, and help solve environmental sustainability challenges.

This PhD position is part of the NWO Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) MUNITION project involving a broad consortium of Radboud University, Wageningen University, various waste treatment and plastic sorting companies, as well as local and national governments and societal stakeholders. MUNITION aims to quantify the effects of alternative Dutch national plastic household waste sorting policies on the recycling potential and corresponding environmental impacts - including material quality for recycling - of resulting plastic recycling systems.

You will contribute to this consortium by quantifying and comparing environmental impacts of the alternative plastic household waste recycling systems using pre-sorting (at the household level) or post-sorting (at sorting facilities). You will develop and apply life cycle assessments (LCAs) of products contributing to plastic household waste and the waste treatment/recycling strategies themselves. You will then assess the impacts of these strategies at system level, considering reduced virgin plastic production, substituted products using recycled plastic, energy production from waste, ultimately leading to reduced environmental impacts and fossil fuel use. The environmental impact assessment of pre-sorting and post-sorting of plastic household waste scenarios will differentiate between regional waste collection systems in the Netherlands and consider the changing effects of waste collection strategies over time (e.g. in product development or consumer behaviour). Environmental impacts to be considered are a combination of what is known as 'mid-point categories' (e.g. climate change, particulate matter formation, and land use) and 'end-point categories' (human health, ecosystem damage and resource depletion).

You will work in an interdisciplinary team of experts at the academic forefront of innovative LCA development, while also yielding tangible results to have a direct sustainability impact on society through cooperation with the public and private waste treatment partners in the MUNITION project. Your teaching load may be up to 10% of your working time.


  • You hold an MSc degree in one of the Natural Sciences, Industrial Ecology, or Environmental Science/Engineering.
  • You have experience with life cycle assessment (LCA) and are familiar with LCA software (e.g. SimaPro or BrightWay).
  • You have an affinity with integrated environmental assessment and/or systems thinking.
  • You enjoy conducting collaborative research with societal impact.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.

We are

The mission of the Environmental Science Group of RIBES is to provide high-quality scientific knowledge that can help the world move towards greater sustainability. To achieve this, we aim to understand, project and address the impact of anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems and humans from the landscape to the global scale. This enables us to explore and develop wide-ranging sustainable solutions for the environmental challenges the world faces today.

Within the Faculty, the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES) aims to perform world leading research in order to understand the responses of the natural environment to human impact. This curiosity-driven, fundamental research is cross-linked with innovative applications in both industry and society with a focus on mitigating ecosystem degradation and finding solutions to restore the natural environment. In addition to developing world-class research, the institute is dedicated to first-rate education in its Biology BSc, MSc and international PhD programmes.

Radboud University's Faculty of Science hosts excellent fundamental research in the natural sciences, with a specific focus on creating societal impact. The real problems in society cannot be solved by a single scientific discipline. That is why the Faculty particularly likes to invest in interdisciplinary research.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 in the fourth year (salary scale P). 
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Koen Kuipers, Postdoctoral Researcher, at koen.kuipers [at] Alternatively, you can contact Mark Huijbregts, Professor, at m.huijbregts [at]

Practical information and applying

You can apply until 10 April 2023, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Koen Kuipers. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • A letter of motivation.
  • Your CV.
The first round of interviews will take place on Tuesday 18 April.
You would preferably begin employment as soon as possible.
We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure. It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.
Apply now Application deadline

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Kuipers, K.J.J. (Koen)

Postdoctoral Researcher

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