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Novel “Upcycling” Method To Provide Plastic Second Life

A recycling method has been developed by researchers that converts single-use plastic bottles and materials made from an ordinary polyester material into more useful products with an extended lifecycle. Their study can assist to safeguard oceans from waste of plastic by fueling the recycled plastics market.

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) is tough but lightweight, shatterproof, and resistant to water—characteristics that make it very famous among producers. Though PET can be recyclable, the majority of the 26 million tons generated each year finishes up in landfills or somewhere else in the surroundings, where it requires hundreds of years to disintegrate.

Nevertheless, even when it is recycled, the method is away from perfect. Retrieved PET has a low worth than the actual and can only be recycled once or twice. The researchers merged retrieved PET with elements obtained from renewable resources such as waste plant biomass. This led to a new fabric that merges reclaim PET and sustainably resourced, bio-based molecules to generate 2 sorts of fiber-reinforced plastics (FRPs)—that are 2–3x more helpful than the original PET, implying that potential plastic bottles can live productive second lives.

Through their teamwork with NREL analysts, the team also estimates that the composite product would need 57% less power to generate than reclaimed PET utilizing the existing recycling method and would release 40% fewer greenhouse gases compared to ordinary petroleum-based FRPs—an important enhancement over business as usual.

Likewise, as accounted by Fast Company, recently IBM developers created a pressure reactor that utilizes a new recycling technique, known as VolCat. The tool has the capability to disintegrate material made of a polyester and cotton mixture. The device will differentiate the 2 materials, gyrating the natural cotton yarns into a ball, and disintegrating the polyester into a powder. Also, the device repurposes dirty hard plastics, by disintegrating the products into powder that can be utilized to make new plastic items.

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