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Researchers Develop New Material to Make Recycling Plastic Easier

The multi-block polymer can be added to polyethylene and polypropylene to create a mechanically tough polymer that could make plastic easier to recycle.

A team of researchers from Cornell University and the University of Minnesota have developed a multi-block polymer that can be added to polyethylene and polypropylene to create a new, mechanically tough polymer that could make plastic easier to recycle.

To test the polymer, the team welded together two strips of plastic using different multi-block polymers as adhesives and then pulled them apart mechanically. During this process, the weld made with di-block polymers failed relatively quickly, and the weld made of the researchers’ tetra-block additive held so well that the plastic strips actually broke.

The testing revealed that the two plastics could meld together and potentially resolve a longtime recycling issue.

Design News has more:

With the growing awareness that discarded plastic and the need to recycle it are becoming an overwhelming ecological problem, researchers are trying to find ways to reuse the plastic that already exists and limit the use of the material or find more eco-friendly alternatives.

To the former end, a researcher at Cornell University has led a team that’s developed a new material that solves a significant problem that’s been hindering plastic recycling.

Geoffrey Coates, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University, often begins discussions about plastic recycling by pointing out that a mere 2 percent of plastic is currently recycled, he said. That means nearly a third of it goes into the environment, 14 percent is used in incineration and/or energy recovery, and a significant 40 percent ends up in landfills.

Read the full story here.

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