Progress toward 'infinitely recyclable' plastic

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!


TAMPA, United States (AFP) — US scientists said Thursday they have made progress toward a kind of plastic that can be recycled "infinitely," and that it appears durable enough to compete with regular plastics.

Unlike plastics made from petroleum products, the new kind can be converted back to its original small-molecule state, and remade into new plastics over and over, said the report in the journal Science.

"The polymers can be chemically recycled and reused, in principle, infinitely," said lead author Eugene Chen, professor in the Department of Chemistry at Colorado State University.

Chen cautioned that the research has been done in the lab only, and more work is needed to bring it to scale.

However, the team has built on an advance it announced in 2015, which resulted in a fully recyclable plastic that was softer than many would have liked.

Making the old version required extremely cold conditions, and the end product had low heat resistance.

The new product fixes all these issues, researchers said.

An accompanying commentary in Science called the work "an important step" toward addressing the planet's plastic problem.

Under the new process, "plastic waste is depolymerised back to the starting material and then repolymerised to yield virgin-like plastics," said the commentary.

This kind of advance "can lead to a world in which plastics at the end of their life are not considered as waste but as raw materials to generate high-value products."

Currently, only about five per cent of plastic is recycled.

Global production of plastic is expected to exceed 500 million metric tons by 2050.

Experts predict that by mid-century, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT