In potentially fabulous news for the environment, a new type of plastic may be the first that's infinitely recyclable.
Scientists say they’ve developed a kind of plastic that can be recycled an unlimited number of times. Usually, the recycling process takes a serious toll on the quality of plastics.
But New Scientist reports that the new material, PBTL, can be broken down and remoulded into something new that’s just as high-quality as the original - meaning, potentially, a whole lot less plastic filling our landfills.
One reason why so little plastic is currently recycled is because it is hard to break down, and the processes typically used to remould old plastic weakens its chemical structure. As a result, recycled plastic is normally only used to make low-value products, such as outdoor benches and bins.
However, the good news is that a team, led by Colorado State University chemist Eugene Chen, has come up with a way to break the plastic back down into individual monomers, according to research recently published in the journal Science Advances. All it takes is 24 hours of boiling and chemical treatment.
So, as long as the plastic isn’t mixed in with any other kinds, Chen told New Scientist that PBTL can be broken down and recycled indefinitely.
It’s encouraging to see developments like these, but the real challenge will likely be getting manufacturers to actually adopt these new low-waste plastics over cheaper options. Unless, of course, governments insist.
Original source: Futurism