Recycling Plastics Breakthrough could be near

Water BottlesResearchers from IBM and Stanford University are working to create a new kind of plastic, one that can be recycled multiple times and that’s biodegradable.

Most plastics can only be recycled once as the metal catalysts they contain break down, contaminating and degrading it, affecting the material’s recyclability. Organic catalysts such as are being worked with at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, leave no residue, can break down the plastic’s polymers to their original state and are cheap to produce.

Also, organic catalysts break down plastic at room temperature – a much lover level than currently possible, where higher temperatures and greater energy are required.

This breakthrough could allow plastics to b recycled over and over in the future.

In Saudi Arabia, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology is working with IBM and Stanford to establish a pilot recycling program for PET (the common plastic used in drink bottles, identified as #1 plastic) using the organic catalysts.

This development, if realized, could have exciting new applications, including for healthcare, particularly in drug delivery devices and replacing synthetic computer materials with greener alternatives.