New discovery allows for repeated recycling of plastic

UK scientists have found a new method to recycle plastic hundreds of times without losing its original quality

One of the problems with the present recycling methods of plastic is that you end up with a lower quality plastic with worse properties than the original.

Researchers at the Universities of Bath and 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.

The new method, published in ChemSusChem, uses lower temperatures and environmentally-friendly catalysts compared to previous methods.

Professor Matthew Jones, from the Centre for Sustainable & Circular Technologies at the University of Bath, said: “Our method of chemical recycling overcomes this problem by breaking down plastic polymers into their chemical building blocks, so they can be used all over again to make virgin plastic without losing any properties.”

So far, the technology has only been demonstrated on a small scale. Collaborators at the University of Birmingham are working to scale up this system.

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