New process upcycles plastic waste into a more valuable adhesive

via News Atlas

A team at UC Berkeley has developed a process that turns plastic waste into something more valuable – an adhesive. Based on an engineered catalyst, the inspiration was to find ways to “upcycle” plastics by putting them to new uses while preserving the properties that made them attractive in the first place.

Plastic waste is one of the modern world’s biggest environmental concerns, but plastics are notoriously unattractive to recycling companies. Unlike corrugated cardboard, glass, or scrap metal, plastics are very difficult to reuse and doing so makes the end product less valuable than the original plastic – which isn’t very valuable to begin with.

Read the full story here: https://newatlas.com/science/waste-plastic-polyethylene-adhesive/

Welsh government backs project to turn waste plastic into carbon nanotubes

via Circular

The Welsh government is backing a cutting-edge science project at Swansea University that changes waste plastics into highly valuable compounds for the energy industries.

The government is to invest in a plastics upscaling project which has the potential to create highly-skilled jobs in Wales, the university says.

Scientists are extracting carbon atoms found in waste plastics and turning them into a nanotube format that can be used for the transmission of electricity.

Read the full story here: https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/welsh-government-backs-project-to-turn-waste-plastic-into-carbon-nanotubes/

Brewers are addressing the beer industry’s plastic dilemma

via Marin Independent Journal

Early this year, a brewery in East Aurora, New York, began offering customers a free pint of beer for each plastic four-pack or six-pack can carrier that they returned, a reuse program aimed at reducing the volume of plastic that flows into our economy’s waste stream, the terrestrial environment and the ocean.

It was a good move for the beer industry. 42 North Brewing’s effort is focused specifically on the almost ubiquitous beverage carriers made by the company PakTech, and it will hopefully inspire other breweries to follow suit. After all, the United States and the European Union are huge contributors to the world’s plastic crisis, which poses an existential threat to marine wildlife.

Read the full story here: https://www.marinij.com/2020/11/24/brewers-are-addressing-the-beer-industrys-plastic-dilemma/

This Norwegian start-up wants to build houses out of 100% recycled plastic

via WeForum.org

Using one of the world’s problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up’s mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

Since 1950, more than nine billion tonnes of plastic have been produced globally, of which only 9% is recycled, according to building tech company Othalo, while almost a billion people live in slums.

Read the full story here: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/

Research Turns Plastic Waste into Biodegradable Silk

via Plastics Today

Solutions to big problems can spring from little things. In research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, a microorganism that digests common petroleum-based plastic waste and yields a biodegradable plastic alternative represents a new solution to an on-going problem.

With the support of a substantial new National Science Foundation grant of $500,000 for the project, a team of engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will explore this potentially transformative idea entitled Microbial Upcycling of Petrochemical Polymer Waste into High Value Protein-Based Polymers for a Circular Economy.

Read the full story here: https://www.plasticstoday.com/materials-research/research-turns-plastic-waste-biodegradable-silk

Plastic Fuels: Do They Fix Waste Or Greenwash It?

via Forbes

Marketed as a solution to the environmental and waste problems the plastic industry is currently facing, recycled carbon fuels are problematic. And they will be at odds with Wednesday’s vote from the EU Parliament backing a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

briefing published by Zero Waste Europe shows that these fuels are produced by converting plastics back to their original fossil form. As they are burnt and carbon is released to the atmosphere, they are ultimately exacerbating climate change.

Read the full story here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/emanuelabarbiroglio/2020/10/08/the-pros-and-cons-of-plastic-to-fuels/#4508a3ce48cb

COVID-19 Lays Waste to Many US Recycling Programs

via Manufacturing Business Technology

Many items designated as reusable, communal or secondhand have been temporarily barred to minimize person-to-person exposure. This is producing higher volumes of waste.

Grocers, whether by state decree or on their own, have brought back single-use plastic bags. Even IKEA has suspended use of its signature yellow reusable in-store bags. Plastic industry lobbyists have also pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether, claiming that reusable bags pose a public health risk.

Read the full story here: https://www.mbtmag.com/home/news/21138099/covid19-lays-waste-to-many-us-recycling-programs

How NASA’s 3D-Printers Test Recycling Plastic in Space

via FedTech Magazine

NASA’s 3D-printing program began with making tiny wrenches and may end up building infrastructure on the moon. In between those moments, however, astronauts aboard the International Space Station are testing technology designed to make the printing process more efficient.

The space station is currently home to two 3D printers, one known as the Refabricator and another called the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF). A third device, the Recycler, is designed to recycle used material to save room and weight on the ISS, much like the Refabricator. Each works in a slightly different way, and astronauts are trying to determine which works best.

Read the full story here: https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2020/05/how-nasas-3d-printers-test-recycling-plastic-space

COVID-19 is forcing us to rethink our plastic problem

via World Economic Forum

  • The global demand for PPE has caused a concurrent uptick in demand for single-use plastics.
  • As lockdowns are lifted, we may find our reliance on plastic has increased.
  • Companies and governments now have an even more urgent – and tricky – responsibility to transition to a circular economy.

Economic uncertainties and risks of a second wave of COVID-19 might impose significant limitations on waste services. With the pandemic contributing to increased plastic use in healthcare, and large volumes of waste being unfit for recycling due to potential biohazards, medical plastic waste could grow at an unprecedented scale. A similar situation might arise in the food industry and other services that had previously decided to temporally limit reusables. The disrupted waste management and recycling sector would also take some time to recover and would not be able to effectively handle massive volumes of post-pandemic plastic.

Read the full story here: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/covid-19-is-forcing-us-to-rethink-our-plastic-problem/

30-year survey assesses plastic problem in the Antarctic

Via New Atlas

Two new studies by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are shedding new light on plastic waste in the Antarctic. Based on 30 years of extensive surveys of marine debris ingested by sea birds or washed up on Bird Island at South Georgia and Signy Island in the South Orkneys, researchers have been able to determine the source of plastics in the region and the effectiveness of mitigation efforts.

We like to think of Antarctica as a pristine, wild continent that’s as untouched as a fresh snowfall, but its shores are still as exposed to the ocean’s currents as anywhere else and often end up as repositories of plastic waste either brought in by waves or in the stomachs of seabirds.

Read the full story here: https://newatlas.com/environment/30-year-survey-bas-plastic-waste-antarctic/

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