Recycling plastic is very good for the environment, but in many places around the world, it's cheaper to throw away the plastic and make new instead of recycling. A research team from the University of Bath in the UK now hopes to change that.
Researchers have developed a method that makes it faster and cheaper to recycle certain types of plastic. Using a zinc-based catalyst and methanol, the researchers were able to break down plastic in just 20 minutes. The whole process works at room temperature so no extra energy is used to heat the plastic.
The plastic is broken down into its basic elements in a way that makes it possible to make new plastic which can then be recycled over and over again.
"It is very exciting to see how our method can use plastic waste to produce a variety of plastic products. It is absolutely necessary to recycle the plastic in an economical way to get a sustainable chain", says Matthew Jones, professor at the University of Bath and one of the researchers behind the study, in a press release.
So far, the researchers have only tested the method on a smaller scale, but they will now try to scale up the method so that it can be used industrially.