Material Insights: Ukraine crisis drives resin price increases

From Razors to Soda Bottles, Consumer Goods Feel Resin-Cost Burn

via Bloomberg

Booming prices for resins, the building blocks for plastic, have already helped drive up the cost of making everyday products such as toys, bottles and face masks.

 polyethylene recycle

Now the fossil-fuel-derived ingredient could get even more expensive as Russia’s attack on Ukraine raises the risk of higher oil prices, potentially trickling down to what consumers pay for household and personal care products. Brent crude had already risen almost 48% in the last year.

Read the full story here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-25/from-razors-to-soda-bottles-consumer-goods-feel-resin-cost-burn

Lab turns hard-to-process plastic waste into carbon-capture master

Lab turns hard-to-process plastic waste into carbon-capture master

via Phys.org

What seems like a win-win for a pair of pressing environmental problems describes a Rice University lab’s newly discovered chemical technique to turn waste plastic into an effective carbon dioxide (CO2) sorbent for industry.

plastic scrap

Rice chemist James Tour and co-lead authors Rice alumnus Wala Algozeeb, graduate student Paul Savas and postdoctoral researcher Zhe Yuan reported in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano that heating plastic waste in the presence of potassium acetate produced particles with nanometer-scale pores that trap carbon dioxide molecules.

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2022-04-lab-hard-to-process-plastic-carbon-capture-master.html

 

Chemists cook up way to remove microplastics using okra

via the American Chemical Society.

SAN DIEGO, March 22, 2022 — In many cuisines, okra serves as a master thickener of stews and soups. The goo from that fruit and other plants, such as aloe, cactus and psyllium, can also clean water and wastewater of some types of solid pollutants, as well as some that are dissolved. Now, researchers have demonstrated that combinations of these food-grade plant extracts can remove microplastics from wastewater.

microplastics okra

The health effects of ingesting microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic 5 mm or smaller — are currently unclear, but studies suggest that people unintentionally consume tens of thousands of these particles every year. “We think that microplastics by themselves may not be much of a health hazard, but anything that they get into or any type of toxic substance that gets attached to these plastics could go inside our bodies and cause problems,” says Rajani Srinivasan, Ph.D., the principal investigator for the project.

Read the full story here: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2022/march/cooking-up-a-way-to-remove-microplastics-from-wastewater.html

Scientists find microplastics in blood for first time

Scientists find microplastics in blood for first time

via Phys.org

Microplastic sperules in tooth paste, about 30 µm in diameter. Credit: Dantor (talk) 20:55, 18 November 2013 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have discovered microplastics in human blood for the first time, warning that the ubiquitous particles could also be making their way into organs.

The tiny pieces of mostly invisible plastic have already been found almost everywhere else on Earth, from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains as well as in the air, soil and food chain.

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2022-03-scientists-microplastics-blood.html

Visible ocean plastics just the tip of the iceberg

Visible ocean plastics just the tip of the iceberg

Simulations find the majority of ocean plastics may be on the seafloor or otherwise difficult to monitor, with vastly more plastic waste likely trapped on land

Simulating a half century of movement and degradation of plastic waste in the ocean, a new study estimates that nearly two-thirds of ocean plastics are outside the reach of current monitoring methods. Furthermore, the study suggests that the estimated 25.3 million metric tons of total ocean plastics may represent only 5% of all mismanaged plastic waste to date, with the rest still on land.

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/03/220318092128.htm

plastic scrap

UN passes historic resolution to end plastic pollution: What does it mean, why this is a need of the hour

UN passes historic resolution to end plastic pollution: What does it mean, why this is a need of the hour

via Firstpost

The landmark resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal. The resolution calls for immediate collective voluntary action by countries towards the goal of ending plastic pollution.

In a historic move to deal with the global problem of plastic waste, 175 nations across the world adopted a historic resolution at the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi to forge an international “legally binding agreement” by 2024 to end plastic pollution.

The landmark resolution addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.

Read the full story here: https://www.firstpost.com/world/un-passes-historic-resolution-to-end-plastic-pollution-what-does-it-mean-why-this-is-a-need-of-the-hour-10430181.html

Efficient, Profitable Plastics Extrusion Begins with Materials Knowledge

via Plastics Today

All plastics have additives — some obvious, some invisible

First of all, no plastic is 100% pure when it goes into the extruder. All of them have additives — some are obvious, like colorants, and some are invisible, like light stabilizers that keep the Sun’s ultraviolet rays from breaking the molecules and discoloring or weakening the plastic.

HMM — how much matters — is my favorite acronym. I squirm when I hear the words “in it,” as in “it has sugar in it” or “there’s BPA in it.” I want to scream, “How much is in it?” but usually I don’t. Often the speaker wants/needs to avoid dealing with the actual amount. Additives are prime examples: We can’t know a compound is adequately protected from sunlight degradation (UV) without knowing what the additive is, how uniformly it’s mixed, and how much of it is in it.

Read the full story here: https://www.plasticstoday.com/extrusion-film-sheet/efficient-profitable-plastics-extrusion-begins-materials-knowledge

Stanford pediatric arbovirologist Desiree LaBeaud’s quest to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases led to an unlikely culprit: plastic trash

LaBeaud’s quest to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases led to an unlikely culprit: plastic trash

via Stanford Report

In 2021, Stanford pediatrician and arbovirologist Desiree LaBeaud and her colleagues launched the nonprofit organization HERI-Kenya to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Kenya by cleaning up the plastic waste where the insect breed.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a global havoc-wreaker, responsible for debilitating and deadly illnesses ranging from dengue fever to chikungunya and Zika virus. With a prodigious ability to multiply and a growing range extending from Africa and South America to much of Asia and many parts of the United States, it infects an estimated 400 million people annually.

plastic scrap
photo credit: Julia Joppien

 

No vaccines or therapeutics are available for these illnesses, so targeting the insect’s breeding grounds is critical to saving lives.

That’s why, in 2015, one of the first things Desiree LaBeaud did upon joining the Stanford Department of Pediatrics was apply for a Bechtel Faculty Scholar Award. She wanted to use the funds to teach Kenyan school children and community members about the mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. She had been studying mosquito-borne illness in Kenya for over a decade as a pediatric arbovirologist, a specialist who studies diseases caused by blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. She saw that dengue fever was sickening many Kenyan children due to a lack of awareness about its cause and how to prevent it.

Read the full story here: https://news.stanford.edu/report/2022/02/09/investigating-mosquito-borne-diseases-led-unlikely-culprit-plastic-trash/

How ‘super-enzymes’ that eat plastics could curb our waste problem

How ‘super-enzymes’ that eat plastics could curb our waste problem

via The Guardian

plastic scrap
Photo by Catherine Sheila on Pexels.com

Beaches littered with plastic bottles and wrappers. Marine turtles, their stomachs filled with fragments of plasticPlastic fishing nets dumped at sea where they can throttle unsuspecting animals. And far out in the Pacific Ocean, an expanse of water more than twice the size of France littered with plastic waste weighing at least 79,000 tonnes.

The plastic pollution problem is distressingly familiar, but many organisations are working to reduce it. Alongside familiar solutions such as recycling, a surprising ally has emerged: micro-organisms. A handful of microbes have evolved the ability to “eat” certain plastics, breaking them down into their component molecules. These tiny organisms could soon play a key role in reducing plastic waste and building a greener economy.

Read the full story here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/05/how-super-enzymes-that-eat-plastics-could-curb-our-waste-problem

New lightweight material is stronger than steel

New lightweight material is stronger than steel​

via MIT News

The new substance is the result of a feat thought to be impossible: polymerizing a material in two dimensions.

Using a novel polymerization process, MIT chemical engineers have created a new material that is stronger than steel and as light as plastic, and can be easily manufactured in large quantities.

The new material is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets, unlike all other polymers, which form one-dimensional, spaghetti-like chains. Until now, scientists had believed it was impossible to induce polymers to form 2D sheets.

Read the full story here: https://news.mit.edu/2022/polymer-lightweight-material-2d-0202