When it comes to single-use items like packaging and cups, bioplastics have emerged as a viable alternative. Compostable and biodegradable, bioplastics can take up to several months to decompose. Scientists from the University of Bath and the University of Birmingham have now found a more effective method of recycling plastics.
Even while bioplastics decompose quickly, they nevertheless take up space in landfills. As a result, resources and energy are being utilised inefficiently. The products produced are only used for a few seconds before being thrown away. An enormous truck will be needed to transfer the trash to the dump where it will remain for months at a time. Bioplastics, on the other hand, disintegrate more quickly than traditional plastics, which can take decades or even centuries to break down.
The method generates secondary uses for the byproducts it produces.
Scientists have come up with a revolutionary chemical technique that employs a zinc-based catalyst and methanol to break down consumer bioplastics more quickly than previously possible. As a result, this trash will not take up much room in landfills. In addition, methyl acetate, a biodegradable solvent that may be employed in a variety of sectors, including medicines and cosmetics, is released throughout the process.
Polylactic acid, on the other hand, is a popular material. Numerous single-use goods, including children’s toys and 3D printers, may be made with this material.
All key polylactic acid items were evaluated to develop the method: children’s toys, throwaway cups, and 3D printer waste. The thinness of the cup allowed scientists to see that it could be easily transformed even at low temperatures. Children’s toys, on the other hand, need a higher temperature for conversion because they are a little more dense.