Technology 3 min read

New Plastic Maintains Original Quality When Recycled

pasja1000 / Pixabay.com

pasja1000 / Pixabay.com

Researchers from the U.S., China, and Saudi Arabia have teamed up to develop a new kind of plastic that maintains its original qualities when recycled.

Plastics are one of the most desirable materials today, and why not.

They are light, reliable, and bendable when needed. Also, plastics serve a variety of purposes — in cell phones, television, computers, and other items that make modern life possible.

But there’s a downside.

It takes a long time — as much as 1000 years — for plastics to decompose, and they do not recycle very well. As a result, millions of tons of plastics usually end up in landfills and water tables.

Scientists have been working to develop a new kind of plastic with all the advantages of the old plastics. However, such new material must also be easy to recycle.

In the latest effort, a team of international researchers claims to have developed such a plastic.

In their published paper in Science Advances, the researchers wrote:

“Here, we introduce a monomer design strategy based on a bridged bicyclic thiolactone that produces stereo-disordered to perfectly stereo-ordered polythiolactones, all exhibiting high crystallinity, and full chemical recyclability.”

In other words, the new kind of plastic has the same properties as the traditional one. Also, they’re relatively easy to recycle.

Here’s how the researchers developed it.

Developing a Plastic that Maintains Originality When Recycled

To create the new plastic, the researchers prepared a bridged bicyclic thiolactone monomer from a bio-based olefin carboxylic acid. This resulted in a plastic that has all the qualities of traditional plastics, and the researchers are calling it PBTL.

In a test, the researchers noted that the plastic broke down into its original monomer. Even at room temperature and in the presence of a catalyst, samples of PBTL still broke down to its original monomer.

Now, here’s the exciting part.

The team was able to use the monomer from both processes to develop new batches of PBTL. This proves that it’s possible to break down PBTL and create it over and over again.

According to the team, the process could be repeated indefinitely. They further suggested that PBTL can create a host of products, like traditional plastic.

Hence, it provides a way to reduce the number of plastics that end up in the environment.

This isn’t the first time scientists developed a plastic that can be reused indefinitely. Last year, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory created a similar material.

It remains to be seen how these advancements will impact plastic pollution.

Read More: Researchers Convert Plastic Bottles into Supercapacitor Material

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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