The News Today
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10.21.20
Starting Over

A New Kind of Plastic Could Be Recycled Indefinitely

__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
Victor Tangermann

Plastic Reborn

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 remolded into something new that’s just as high-quality as the original — meaning, potentially, a whole lot less plastic filling our landfills.

Boiled Down

The team, led by Colorado State University chemist Eugene Chen, came up with a way to break the plastic back down into individual monomers, according to research published Wednesday 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.

Silver Medal

A team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed a similar, endlessly-recyclable plastic last year.

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.

READ MORE: A new type of plastic may be the first that is infinitely recyclable [New Scientist]

More on plastic: This New Plastic Can Be Recycled Repeatedly