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Scientific Breakthrough For Plastic Recycling

While people have become more active in recycling plastic, less than 10% of plastic waste in the USA enters the cycle economy. But scientists have now found a new way to deal with certain common plastics that have been difficult or impossible to recycle. 

One problem has been that recycled plastic isn’t as strong as the original, and this becomes a growing problem with additional cycles. 

The new solution is a completely new way to modify and strengthen plastics at the molecular level. The credit goes to the scientists at the University of North Carolina. Their method will break down the discarded plastic and recycle them to create a more robust material.  

EcoWatch had some interesting details about this new technology.

“The method breaks down plastics and alters the carbon-hydrogen bonds found in plastic polymers to make them tougher than the original plastic. This not only recycles the plastic, but also makes it more valuable.”


Frank Leibfarth, assistant professor of chemistry in the UNC College of Arts & Sciences

One example is the type of polyethylene that is commonly used to secure products during transport. These foam-type materials have been impossible to recycle so far because the new product is too weak to be effective. 

This could be a game-changer for better dealing with plastic waste as many businesses and individuals unfortunately still face throwing plastics in the trash because there’s simply no other place for them.

Chris is one of GreenCitizen’s writers who has been a long-time advocate of individual responsibility when it comes to the environment. He shares GreenCitizen's passion for making the world a better place every day of the year.


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