The Future of Plastics – Plastic That Breaks Down In Sun and Air within a Week

By: | July 23rd, 2021

Image by Pixabay

Plastic trash is choking our oceans and waterways, adversely impacting wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans. Since it does not decompose easily, plastic sticks around in the environment for ages, spreading toxins.

But now a new kind of degradable plastic material could help tackle plastic waste.  This new type of plastic breaks down in just a week and evaporates in the sun and air.

Researchers accidentally developed this new environmentally degradable plastic

Researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, were working on an advanced color-changing polymer film last year. They noticed that the plastic’s natural color faded quickly, and it broke down in fragments when exposed to air and light for a week. Once decomposed, it doesn’t leave behind any environmentally damaging traces of plastic.

Is it too early to rejoice?

With the unique molecular structure of this plastic, it remains stable only in the dark without oxygen. It can’t be used for bottles or bags that need to last longer than a week.

Although the new plastic is not an alternative to plastic food bags and water bottles, it could reduce plastic waste remarkably.

Researchers are working on ways to make this plastic usable. For now, researchers believe that it could be useful in electronics. When sealed shut in an electronic device, it could last for years without contact with light or air. Once the electronics become junk, they could be broken down and trigger decomposition.

Nidhi Goyal

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

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