Plastic has always been a boon and at the same time became a bane for all of us. When the plastic was introduced, it was liked by everyone as it was disposable, easy to use, but the main problem is that there is no proper method of disposing of plastic completely and adds pollution to the environment. National Renewable Energy Laboratory has done research on single-use plastics and if they should be used again or not. Global Warming and the pollution of the environment are the two major things which are troubling the scientists and the people. Every year a lot of plastic is found from the ocean.
There is no proper way of disposing of it and people throw this anywhere without thinking about the harmful effects which it can have on the environment. The problem increases as China who was the biggest recycling country has denied taking any plastic from other countries. Scientists have been pressurized to find the new solutions which can be executed to stop the increase in plastic pollution. There are no such profit plants which are set up to recycle all the plastic which need to be disposed of. In a new study of NREL, scientists are saying that they have another idea to tackle this problem. They suggest we should not recycle it but upcycle it to earn more profit.
What does upcycle in this holy world means? This is an interesting concept in which we are not recycling the unused plastic but we convert it to something which is having economic value. PET bottles of soft drinks can be used for this purpose.
“Standard PET recycling today is essentially ‘downcycling,’” Gregg Beckham, a senior research fellow at NREL. “The process we came up with is a way to ‘upcycle’ PET into long-lifetime, high-value composite materials like those that would be used in car parts, wind turbine blades, surfboards, or snowboards.”
This PET is known as polyethylene terephthalate which is suitable to make lightweight, strong, waterproof bottles and this is the base of the soft drink industry as they cannot assume their business without these PET bottles, but these bottles can be recycled once or twice, not more than this so scientists are coming with the solution.
This study was published in NREFL “The idea is to develop technologies that would incentivize the economics of PET reclamation,” says Beckham according to Science Daily. “That’s the real hope — to develop ‘second-life’ upcycling technologies that make single-use waste plastic valuable to reclaim. This, in turn, could help keep waste plastic out of the world’s oceans and out of landfills.”
“The scale of PET production dwarfs that of composites manufacturing, so we need many more upcycling solutions to truly make a global impact on plastics reclamation through technologies like the one proposed in the current study,” says first author Nicholas Rorrer, an engineer at NREL who also participated in the study.