New Form of Recyclable Plastic Can be Reused Infinitely

New Form of Recyclable Plastic Can be Reused Infinitely

The problem is when these additives bond with the monomers, they become all but inseparable so that when the plastic is shredded into pieces and mixed with other types of plastic and then melted, there is no way to know which characteristic the recycled plastic will inherit from the component materials. But not all. We might be able to throw our polyethylene terephthalate (PET) drink bottles into the recycling bin, but not a tough, thermoset plastic toy or utensil.

Prior to the discovery, the unpredictability of the properties had made it almost impossible to perform what has been coined "the Holy Grail of recycling", a "circular" material that can be used over and over again for any number of products, including adhesives, phone cases, computer cables and more.

A team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has reportedly developed a new recyclable plastic that can be recycled into new materials of any form, texture, color, or shape.

"Most plastics were never made to be recycled", said lead author Peter Christensen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry. The new material, called poly (diketoenamine), or PDK, was accounted for in the diary Nature Chemistry. Once chemicals are added to the plastic for use and consumption, the monomers bind with the chemicals and make it hard to be processed at recycling plants, the researchers said.

Some would argue that plastics have played an important role in powering the robust world economy that has thrived since the end of World War II. It takes 400 years to degrade but up to 91% of plastic is not being recycled., according to National Geographic.

All that being said, why exactly is there a need for plastic and its recycling process to be revamped?

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There are many hurdles that make recycling plastics hard. The structure of most plastics is comprised of large molecules called polymers which are themselves made up of smaller carbon containing monomers.

Plastic pollution in the world's oceans may have a $A3.6 trillion impact, negatively affecting "almost all marine ecosystem services", including areas such as fisheries, recreation and heritage.

"With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively", says chemist and team leader Brett Helms.

"We're keen on the science that diverts plastic lifecycles from straight to round", said Helms.

"That broken murky watchband you tossed within the trash could presumably compile novel existence as a computer keyboard if it's made with our PDK plastics", Helms talked about. This means that when it comes time to recycle the plastic, the monomers and the additives are chemically separated using an acidic solution, leaving the monomers free to bond with different additives to make different kinds of plastics. They could also upcycle the plastic by adding additional features, such as flexibility.

Want more of today's best plant-based news, recipes, and lifestyle? "If these facilities were created to recycle or upcycle PDK and related plastics, then we would be able to more effectively divert plastic from landfills and the oceans". In addition, they are looking to expand the formulations by incorporating plant-based materials and other sustainable sources.

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