One of the challenges that come with industrial recycling is the fact that it’s very expensive. This is why researchers have continually tried to find new ways to make industrial recycling more viable and affordable. With more than 420 million tons of plastic being produced every year, we have only 3 out of 6 kinds that can be recycled. However, the melting process we currently use for recycling isn’t really that great, as it ends up bringing in a lot of heat and ultimately degrading the plastic quality over continued use.
A New Recycling Method
However, researchers have found a method that relies on chemical processes that replace heat. And this might be able to help make the recycling process faster, easier and more affordable. But what is this new recycling method? The method is called a zinc bath, and as it suggests, you need to use a zinc catalyst in order to break down the BPA-PC to deliver great results.
How is this method different?
Using the zinc catalyst with methanol researchers were able to break down commercial BPA-PC at room temperature in under 20 minutes. The waste produced could then be converted into smaller DMC and BPA molecules. What happens here is that the DMC can then be reused for other chemicals, while the BPA gets captured. What you will notice here is that the process helps maintain the material quality. That doesn’t happen with the current heating process, which is certainly something you need to take into consideration here. What you will notice is that the process might also work with PET and PLA, and this is something that the researchers are now actively exploring.
There are many reasons why using zinc can be a very good idea. For starters, the BPA-PC beads are used in engineering and construction, this can be handy in the world of industrial recycling. With that in mind, the mixed plastic sources work great with this compound, which is certainly something to take into consideration. But that being said, in addition the materials gathered from the zinc catalyst could also have further biomedical applications.
Right now there’s no specific incentive to help bring industrial recycling to large scale applications. With that being said, there are lots of applications that convey value thanks to the new recycling method, and that alone can make a huge difference.
It’s estimated that we will end up spending around $1.2 trillion to create better recycling tech between now and 2040 globally. That’s why things like chemical upcycle processes will continue to help bring in much-needed revenue over the long run for further development.
Thanks to the new recycling tech, this could very well become a possibility. There are many different solutions we can pursue, and that’s why using industrial recycling methods like this can very well change our future. That doesn’t mean it will be simple to do, it will require a lot of time and effort, but the benefits are clear and it’s certainly something we need to consider as much as possible in the next decades.
Here at Waipak we go above and beyond plastics and polymers. Proactively following the latest developments and plastics innovation worldwide ultimately brings our customers the very best in sustainable plastic solutions that lead to a truly circular economy.