Only 10% of plastic is recycled – because it’s so hard to break down.
“A new type of plastic may be the first that is infinitely recyclable.”
There are clever things to do with plastic:
But there is a limit to what you can do with old plastic.
We might have found the ‘holy grail’ of plastics – a material which can be easily broken down… and built up again:
A new type of plastic that can be easily broken down into its chemical building blocks and reassembled into high-quality products could reduce the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfill. More than 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally each year and only a small fraction – about 10 per cent in the US, for instance – is recycled. The rest is tipped into landfill, incinerated or leaked into the environment.
One reason why so little plastic is recycled is because it is hard to break down, and the processes typically used to remould old plastic weaken its chemical structure. As a result, recycled plastic is normally only used to make low-value products, such as outdoor benches and bins.
To address this problem, Eugene Chen at Colorado State University and his colleagues developed a plastic that is able to maintain its original qualities when recycled…