Recycling plastic could become more efficient

Recycling rates in the U.S. have fallen to a new low.  According to Greenpeace USA, about 5 percent of plastic waste was recycled in 2021.  A Wisconsin professor reveals a new recycling technique that’s turning low-value waste plastic into high-value products.

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Reclaiming Recycling

UW research may solve the plastics problem that menaces the planet.

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Pyrolysed plastic waste converted into valuable chemical feedstocks

New methods of upcycling plastic waste into high-value chemical feedstocks could provide a crucial economic incentive to improve future rates of plastic recycling.  By exploiting reactive chemical groups present in degraded plastics, two research teams have developed new ways of preparing valuable products using robust and established chemistry.

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Revolutionary chemical recycling process adds big value to ‘junk’ plastic waste

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Rid us this Day our Daily Waste: New Path out of the Plastics Problem

The Plastics Problem – Why are practical new ideas for plastics so hard? The main reason is that the products made by existing processes are so low in value that, instead of making treasure from trash, we make trash from trash, and there’s no cash. The fact that the waste stream is so filled with different types of plastics and they don’t play well together, that doesn’t help.

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UW-Madison alternative fuels researcher applies for corn-to-diesel patent

As fuel prices surge, there is a race to give consumers relief through green alternatives. Inside University of Wisconsin-Madison labs, there is a possible breakthrough, something for which UW is seeking a patent.

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Bringing Chemistry to Life – Conversations with the brightest chemical minds

Conversations with C&EN’s Talented 12.  Join us for a series of conversations with some of today’s brightest chemical minds.  Dr. Paolo Braiuca, Sr. Manager for Global Market Development, discusses with chemists from Chemistry and Engineering News’ (C&EN) Talented 12 class of 2021 and 2019 highlights of their research, the challenges they have faced, and insights that may help guide your future research efforts. C&EN’s Talented 12 program is presented by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Full podcast can be found here.


At Pyran, Kevin Barnett is out to replace petroleum with plants

The Capital Times by Natalie Yahr – Kevin Barnett was in his fourth year of chemical engineering grad school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when it hit him. He was sitting in a room of around 80 engineering grad students at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, and the instructor had just asked the group to raise their hands if they’d ever started a company.

Full article can be found here.


Chemists are reimagining recycling to keep plastics out of landfills

SCIENCENEWS by Maria Temming — It feels good to recycle.  There’s a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from dutifully sorting soda bottles, plastic bags and yogurt cups from the rest of the garbage.  The more plastic you put in that blue bin, the more your keeping out of landfills and the oceans, right?

The full article can be found here.

New solvent-based recycling process could cut down on millions of tons of plastic waste

MADISON, Wis. — Multilayer plastic materials are ubiquitous in food and medical supply packaging, particularly since layering polymers can give those films specific properties, like heat resistance or oxygen and moisture control. But despite their utility, those ever-present plastics are impossible to recycle using conventional methods.

About 100 million tons of multilayer thermoplastics — each composed of as many as 12 layers of varying polymers — are produced globally every year. Forty percent of that total is waste from the manufacturing process itself, and because there has been no way to separate the polymers, almost all of that plastic ends up in landfills or incinerators.

The full article can be found here.

No More Landfill! Complex Plastic Recycling in Post-Industrial Waste

Tonight the Perpetual Notion Machine talks with Professor George Huber and Professor Reid van Lehn of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Department of Energy’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. They are the co-authors of the paper ‘Recycling of multilayer plastic packaging materials by solvent-targeted recovery and precipitation’, which details a new process to recycle complex postindustrial waste that is as cost effective to manufacturers as using new plastics.
PNM discusses their technique, which is the first (!) to recycle multilayer plastics that have always gone to landfills, plus the plastic lifecycle, recycling industry, and how their work can be used to cut down on plastic waste. Seeing plastic everywhere you go now? It’s a common side effect of talking about plastic. Join host Emily Morris at the end of the show for ways you can reduce your plastic footprint. And if you want more ideas on how to start your own personal zero waste movement, check out Trash Is For Tossers. The post No More Landfill! Complex Plastic Recycling in Post-Industrial Waste appeared first on WORT 89.9 FM.
The full article can be found here.

Cheaper, more sustainable way to produce plastic precursors

Scientists and engineers at UW-Madison developed an economically feasible process to synthesize a possible substitute for petroleum-derived chemicals from non-edible biomass.

This substitute, called 1,5-pentanediol, is a type of alpha, omega-diol that has two alcohol groups attached at the beginning and the end of a long carbon chain, which is mostly synthesized as a byproduct of other commercially produced diols.

The full article can be found here.

Revolutionizing recycling: UW-Madison research team works to find better way to reuse plastics

MADISON, Wis. – Kevin Sanchez-Rivera spends many hours in the first-floor labs of the engineering building on campus, just a block or so away from Camp Randall. The graduate student feels like the scientific community has a responsibility to figure out a way to make sure plastics are used more than once.

His supervisor, George Huber, is leading the research that he says could change the way we recycle one of the most wasteful products on Earth.

Huber and his team are looking at ways to negate that contamination by separating all of the plastics that are mixed together to make every day items. That’s where Reid Vanlehn comes in. Vanlehn is a chemical and biological engineer who concocts solvents to separate different plastic components from the same material. He uses computer simulations to see how molecules would react and whether certain solutions might be successful in the lab.

The full article can be found here.