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New Method to Recycle Plant-based Plastics

Published on 2020-02-07. Edited By : SpecialChem

TAGS:  Green and Bioplastics    

plastic-recycling-new-method The scientists from the University of Bath and the University of Birmingham have developed a new way of chemical recycling - converting plastics back into their constituent chemical molecules - so that they can be used to make new plastics of the same quality as the original.

New Process - An Alternative to Mechanical Recycling

The team’s method uses lower temperatures and more environmentally-friendly catalysts than previous methods. In the new method of chemical recycling, plastic polymers are broken down into chemical building blocks to be used again to make virgin plastic without losing any properties.

The researchers recycled PLA, which is bio-based and used in “biodegradable” food packaging and disposable cutlery and cups. PLA is not currently recycled because it is not used widely yet; however, with growing awareness of plastic pollution, the demand for recyclable packaging is increasing amongst consumers.

This new method overcomes the problem associated with mechanical recycling, where they are chipped into granules and melted down before being molded into something new.

The melting of plastic changes its properties and reduces the quality, which limits the range of products in which it can be used. The team has also started the trial of a similar process for recycling PET, which is used for bottles for drinks.

So far, the technology has only been demonstrated on a small scale, however collaborators at the University of Birmingham are now working to scale up the system to produce larger quantities of starting chemicals.

Source: Universities of Bath
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