This Sugar-based Recyclable Plastic Breakthrough Sounds Sweet

By: | January 21st, 2022

There is too much plastic in the world. We are drowning in plastics that are mostly non-bio gradable and non-recyclable.

For long researchers have been trying to develop greener versions of plastics and better ways to recycle them.

In a promising new study, scientists were able to produce recyclable plastic using sugar derived materials

A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham, U.K., and Duke University, U.S., have come together to create a new family of polymers from sustainable sources. The new form of plastic has some unprecedented properties that retain all the qualities of common plastics but are also degradable and recyclable.

The scientists used sugar-derived materials as the starting point rather than petrochemical derivatives to create two new polymers. One polymer is stiff but malleable like common plastics, and another polymer had strength and elasticity like rubber.

The mechanical properties of both the materials were retained after being subjected to pulverization and thermal processing, common recycling methods for mechanically recycling plastics.

New polymers can be blended to yield materials with comparable or improved properties

Dr. Josh Worch, from Birmingham’s School of Chemistry, and a co-author in the research said: “The ability to blend these polymers to create useful materials, offers a distinct advantage in recycling, which often has to deal with mixed feeds”.

Dr. Connor Stubbs, also from Birmingham’s School of Chemistry, added: “petrol-based plastics have had decades of research, so catching up with them is a huge challenge. We can look to the unique structures and shapes that biology has to offer to create far better plastics with the same expanse of properties that current commercial plastics can offer”.

After filing a joint patent application, the researchers are now looking for commercial partners who are interested in licensing the technology.

Nidhi Goyal

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

More articles from Industry Tap...