It’s no secret the world has a plastic problem. And some scientists in California might have discovered a new variety to change the game.
Researchers at the government-funded Berkeley Lab in California say their new plastic can be recycled and reused over and over again.
When plastic is used to create a product, it's usually combined with other additives, fillers or dyes. That's what makes a plastic water bottle different from a grocery bag or disposable silverware. But when it comes time to recycle that product, there's no way to separate the plastic molecules from all the other stuff.
In a typical recycling process, all different kinds of plastic products are thrown in together and ground up into tiny bits. So the resulting recycled material can be a little unpredictable.
The Berkeley Lab team's new type of plastic, called PDK, doesn't have that problem. When an item made with PDK is dropped into a high-acid solution, the plastic separates from all the other fillers. Then the raw plastic can be made into something new.
The researchers believe that using PDK plastics and equipping facilities to recycle those products could help keep plastics out of landfills and the ocean.