Upcycle of Plastic Waste could make Recycling Pay for itself

Industry Insights

A team of researchers at the University of Bath have developed a novel simple process for upcycling plastic waste at regular room temperature. The researchers hope the new method to help recycling become more economically feasible.

In fact, plastic waste that runs into landfill or the natural environment is currently much more than all living bio matter, and leads to one of the key environmental challenges of the 21st century.

While the rate of recycling is elevating across Europe, traditional methods of recycling remain limited because harsh smelting environments deteriorate the quality of material on each recycling.

In a new development, a research team has developed a simple and rapid chemical recycling method for polycarbonates – a tough class of plastics commonly used in construction and engineering.

The researchers employed a zinc-based catalyst and methanol, and were able to completely disintegrate commercial polybisphenol A carbonate beads in a span of 20 minutes at room temperature.

The resultant waste can then be transformed into chemical ingredients, namely bispenol A and dimethyl carbonate, and thus help preserve product quality over a large of recycle processes.

The findings of the study is published in ChemSusChem, wherein researchers noticed improved process efficiency and easier conditions in comparison with previous recycling processes.

Importantly, the catalyst used in the process is also resistant to other commercial sources of BPA-PC and mixed waste feeds, increasing industrial relevance, and at the same time being responsive to other plastics at higher temperatures.

Meanwhile, the team has demonstrated an entirely circular approach to produce several renewable polyester amides based on terephthalamide monomers obtained from waste PET bottles. These materials display superior thermal properties and could potentially find use in biomedical applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery.

Edward Turner

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