A team of researchers from the United States, China and Saudi Arabia has developed a type of plastic that has all the qualities of traditional plastics, with the difference that it can be recycled continuously and infinitely. This new material, called PBTL, may be the answer to reduce the impact of plastic on the environment and ecosystems.
Worldwide, more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced per year and only a small percentage is recycled. In Portugal, in 2018, only 15% of plastic packaging was recycled in municipal waste. The rest will end up in soils, oceans and food chains. It was this scenario that led scientists to want to discover an alternative. And she has arrived now.
Scientists have found that PBTL can be easily recycled at 100°C in the presence of a chemical catalyst. It is this process that breaks down the plastic and transforms it back into its original building blocks, which can be reassembled without losing any quality.
This new plastic can be used to make a series of products that are now made from conventional plastics, such as packaging, auto parts and building materials. In return, it must be separated from other materials before it can be recycled. However, the amount of plastics that end up being incinerated, thrown into landfills or lost to the environment can be reduced.