In the shift from the wasteful and earth-damaging ways of the past toward a more sustainable future, technology is our pal. Advances in renewable energy systems, materials production, and waste recycling have transformed our ability to live greener lifestyles. Recently, researchers at the University of Warwick made one such advance in the realm of plastics recycling.
Typically, only around 12% of plastic that goes into the recycling bin is actually recycled. That's because of the difficulty of separating the different types of plastic in each object. The UK scientists have devised a machine that uses heat to break down a multi-plastic material into a substance that contains useful byproducts to be be distilled down for use. Examples of useful byproducts from the plastics include wax for lubricant, terephthalic acid for PET plastic products, and carbon for paint pigments and tires.
This new technology is extremely valuable not only because it will allow recycling plants to achieve much greater efficiency in household plastic recycling, but also because it can be extremely profitable. Instead of the plants having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in landfill fees for the plastics that are not worth recycling, they will be able to turn them into a profit in the form of recycled chemicals.
This is an awesome breakthrough in recycling tech. If only it happened in time for us to recycle all that plastic wrapping paper this Christmas...
(via Science Daily)