Research devises new process to convert no-value plastic bags into valuable adhesives

Industry Insights

Amidst environment conservation goals, in the U.S., a number of cities and a total of eight states have banned one-time use plastics. Despite this, bags and other polyethylene packaging still block landfills and are a cause of pollution in rivers and oceans.

In fact, worldwide, economic factor is one major problem with recycling of polyethylene. This is because recycled bags end up in low-value products such as construction material, thereby leaving little incentive to reuse the waste.

In a bid for a solution to this, a new chemical process is developed by a team of researchers at the University of California. It converts polyethylene plastic into a strong and more useful adhesive and could lessen the economic factor.

Researchers envision to convert useless plastic bags into item of use 

Meanwhile, the vision is to take a plastic bag that is not of any value – and instead of throwing it away to end up in a landfill – turn it into something of high value, said leader of the research team.

From a practical viewpoint, it is not possible to convert all the recycled plastic from hundreds of billions of pounds of polyethylene produced each year into a material with adhesive properties. However, if some fraction of this recycled plastic can be converted into something of high value, it can alter the economics of converting it into something of lower value.

Meanwhile, for most plastics, recycling involves chopping it and using for generic products. In the process, it clears many properties that are painstakingly incorporated in the original plastic such as ease of processing and pliability. On the other hand, new methods of recycling plastic can break it down into chemical constituents of use as such as lubricants or fuels. Nonetheless, these products are of low-value too, and can be environmentally questionable.

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