Only a fraction of the material that could be turned into new plastic is currently recycled. This is very bad as useful materials are improperly disposed of!!
Researchers at Chalmers have now demonstrated how the carbon atoms in the mixed waste can replace all fossil raw materials in the production of new plastic. In short, they demonstrated how renewable energy sources could replace the non-renewable sources used for plastic production. The recycling method is inspired by the natural carbon cycle and could eliminate the climate impact of plastic materials, or even clean the air of carbon dioxide.
“There are enough carbon atoms in waste to produce and create plastic. Using these atoms, we can decouple new plastic products from the supply of virgin fossil raw materials. If the process is powered by renewable energy, we also get plastic products with more than 95% lower climate impact than those produced today, which effectively means negative emissions for the entire system,” says Henrik Thunman, Professor of Energy Technology at Chalmers University of Technology and one of the authors of the study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
To achieve these circular cycles, we need to make better use of the resources already in use in society. Henrik Thunman and his research team want to focus on an important resource that often goes up in smoke today: the carbon atoms in our waste, which are currently incinerated or end up in landfills instead of being recycled. This is made possible with technologies targeting the carbon which is contained and stored in plastic, paper, and wood wastes, with or without food residues, to create raw material for the production of plastics with the same variety and quality as those currently produced from fossil raw materials.
Plastic pellets could be used to recreate and make new plastic products. Let’s hope that people change now and start using renewable sources to make plastic. Let’s also hope that they recycle their old used plastic properly!
Author: Sri Nihal Tammana
PC: Mia Halleröd Palmgren