Sustainable, Plant-Based Plastics Close the Recycling Loop | AIChE

Sustainable, Plant-Based Plastics Close the Recycling Loop


Researchers at the Univ. of Konstanz in Germany have developed two plant-based plastic alternatives that are easier to recycle and more sustainable than petroleum-based conventional plastic. Plastic pollution is a growing issue that damages ecosystems, particularly oceans. Every year, millions of tons of fossil fuel-based plastics enter the environment, where they can harm wildlife and release microparticles of toxic substances. Plastics can take more than 100 years to decompose naturally.

Plastic can be mechanically recycled by shredding the material into pellets, which are then used to create a variety of products. Some plastics can also be chemically recycled by breaking down the long, stable hydrocarbon chains with heat or solvents.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is used in everything from plastic bags to water bottles, breaks down at 600°C. Achieving these high temperatures requires a great deal of energy. In addition,...

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