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University Announces PPE, Medical Plastic Recycling Research

University Announces PPE, Medical Plastic Recycling Research
Troy University’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences is researching new methods for producing polymer-based PPEs.

Troy University’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences has announced new research aimed to bolster production of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for healthcare workers and create new avenues for recycling medical plastic waste.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has put into focus the need for increased production of PPEs for medical professionals. Dr. Govind Menon, director of the Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences, said Troy researchers are looking at new ways to produce PPEs from polymers as a means to increase production and help prepare for future threats.

"The current pandemic has shown the crucial need to increase the nation’s production capacity in regard [to] protective equipment for our medical professionals," said Menon. "At Troy, we are committing to researching new methods for producing polymer-based PPEs in preperation for future medical threats."

In addition, the center has started research into methods for recycling medical plastics. Healthcare facilities in the U.S. generate more than 14,000 tons of medical waste each day, with up to 25 percent of the amount consisting of plastic packaging or products, according to industry sources. 

Currently, that plastic waste ends up in landfills or incinerators, said Menon, but the center is researching methods to recycle that waste for non-medical uses.

"Medical plastics are high-quality virgin plastics that are being incinerated for fear of contamination," said Menon. "We believe it’s possible to recycle this plastic and remove any threat of contamination to create useful, high-grade plastics for non-medical uses. This would be a huge reduction in waste."

Founded in 2018 with support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Troy’s Center for Materials and Manufacturing Sciences is a fully integrated, multidisciplinary research facility that focuses on polymers and polymer recycling research.

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