New catalytic process upcycles plastic waste into a more valuable adhesive

By: | December 29th, 2020

Plastic Waste by Cranti via

We all are aware of how plastic pollution is affecting our lands, waterways, and oceans. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into our oceans.

Now researchers at UC Berkeley have turned plastic waste into something more valuable – an adhesive. This approach puts forward a way to “upcycle” plastics by putting them to new uses while preserving their useful properties.

Although plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental polluters, but plastics are not easy to recycle and reuse. Moreover, only low-value products can be made from this plastic wastes.

So, researchers have created a catalytic process that converts polyethylene plastic into a strong and more valuable adhesive. This way increasing the value of the recycled product.

The upcycled polyethylene could be used in a variety of applications, like in artificial hip sockets and knee implants. This could also be used as insulation for metal wires, or for sticking polymers together to make more durable products.

John Hartwig, leader of the research team, said, “The vision is that you would take a plastic bag that is of no value, and instead of throwing it away, where it ends up in a landfill, you would turn it into something of high value,”

“You couldn’t take all of this recycled plastic — hundreds of billions of pounds of polyethylene are produced each year — and turn it into a material with adhesive properties, but if you take some fraction of that and turn it into something that is of high value, that can change the economics of turning the rest of it into something that is of lower value.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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