Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a recycling process that can transform single-use beverage bottles into more valuable products with a longer lifespan. This could help protect oceans from plastic waste by jump starting the recycled plastics market.
Although plastic bottles are currently recyclable, the process is not perfect and can only be recycled once or twice before being discarded. Moreover, most of the 26 million tons of plastic bottles produced every year end up in landfills or elsewhere in the environment, where they take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
The newly developed process removes the disadvantages of ‘downcycling,’ and enables material to be produced with longer-life, into high-value composite materials which can be used in car parts, wind turbine blades, surfboards, or snowboards effectively ‘upcycling’ the material. Further details of this interesting study can be found here.