When a professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology from the Tisch University, Geoffrey Coates, talks about recycling and plastics he starts the conversation with one simple question – What percent of plastic that is annually used for packaging is recycled for reuse in the same manner? Sadly, the answer is just 2 percent as suggested by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Unfortunately, almost a third of this packaging plastic, which is 78 million tonnes, seeps into environment while another 14 percent is used in energy recovery and incineration and approx. 40 percent ends into landfills.
One of the biggest issues lies with the polypropylene and polyethylene that are responsible for almost 2/3rd of global plastic, have variety of chemical structures and cannot be reused in any form. No efficient technology could be availed in last 60 years for proper reuse of these materials. The scenario is now on the verge of change with the Coate’s lab. He worked in collaboration with a team of researchers that came from the University of Minnesota for development of a multiblock polymer creates a completely tough polymer when added to incompatible materials in very less amounts. They recently published a paper on this research titled as “Combining polyethylene and polypropylene Enhanced performance with PE/iPP multiblock polymers”
The lead author of this paper is James Eagan” who happens to be a postdoctoral researcher. Coates adds that , “People have done things like this before, but they’ll typically put 10 percent of a soft material, so you don’t get the nice plastic properties, you get something that’s not quite as good as the original material. What’s exciting about this,” he said, “is we can go to as low as 1 percent of our additive, and you get a plastic alloy that really has super-great properties. “
Filed Under: News