It was the biggest invention of the last century and the biggest cancer of our century: the plastic. The “miracolous” material that can be used for everything, it’s extremely versatile, cheap, ever-present and highly pollutant. Humanity has a problem with the plastic, this is indisputable. But what can we do without it because this material is now basically used for everything? Properly recycle it is the best solution, but the plastic, sadly, isn’t recyclable forever, until today. It arrives from a group of chemists the news of a new kind of plastic recyclable forever!
The problem of the plastic
The plastic revolutionized the world since its invention. It revolutionized the world of the packaging, it makes what until that moment wasn’t affordable to most of us affordable! The revolutionary material, infact, was extremely cheaper and more versatile than any other.
It all seemed such perfect and idyllic, at the beginning, but the hard truth about the new material arrived soon.
The plastic is highly pollutant and to decompose it spend 450 years (for the less degradable kinds of plastic). But this sure didn’t stop the production, the consumption and the usage of the plastic.
The numbers are scary. In the 1964 we produced about 15 million of tons of plastic. Today we produce about 310 millions of it.
The plastic pollution interests the soil, the air and the water. Basically the plastic arrived everywhere, from the Mariana Trench to the ices of the North Pole.
The problem of the plastic recycle
Humanity then has a problem with the plastic recycle too. This is in reality the real problem. If we were able to recycle all the plastic we won’t have the problem of the pollution of plastic.
The global production of plastic is, like we said, about 310 million of tons, but of them only a very small part of is recycled.
First of all the question of recycle is a thorny issue for many, too much, countries in the world. The italy, in this case, is a model to follow. Of the whole plastic spreaded inside our country we are able to recycle the 43%, while about the 40% is wasted to energy and, only the 16,5% ends up in the junkyard.
But like we said we are one of the countries with the higher amount of recycled plastic. The United States, for example, recycle only the 10% of the plastic.
But the problem isn’t this neither. No one we will able to arrive to the 100% because the plastic isn’t recyclable forever. Slowly it lost its qualities and it is inevitable that it ends up in the junkyard or that it is wasted to energy.
Even though this humanity can’t live without plastic, not yet! And so we must find an alternative solution.
The plastic recyclable forever
The possible alternative solution arrives from a team of chemists from the United States, the China and the Saudi Arabia. Their plastic promises to be recyclable forever, without weaken or lost their structural qualities.
It is a polymer called poly(2-thiabicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-3-one), or, much easily PBTL.
It is a strong, durable and stable material, and it doesn’t lose its quality during the recycle processes. According to its inventors the PBTL can be used for everything, from the sportive clothes to the cars.
How can the PBTL don’t lose its qualities? By heating it at 100°, through a chemical catalyst, the block of PBTL divides itself into the single polymers in about 24 hours. After that the single polymers can be reassembled and reused, without lose its qualities.
L’unica pecca è che il PBTL deve essere riciclato da solo, la presenza di altre plastica vanificherebbe gli sforzi.
Potrebbe essere questa la soluzione al problema del riciclo della plastica e al suo, conseguente, inquinamento?
This post is also available in: Italiano