The chemical engineers from the University of Birmingham have developed a fast and highly efficient way to process plant-based bioplastics. This chemical processing method significantly speeds up the plastic recycling. But in has one advantage more. The recycled product is converted into a new product - a biodegradable solvent. It can be used in various industries. But most often it is added to raw materials for the production of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
All products containing bioplastics made from polylactic acid are subject to similar processing. These are a disposable tableware, especially glasses, children's toys, materials for packaging products. As soon as the term of their use ends, they all end up in a landfill.
The biodegradation of such waste lasts for many months. A new study showed that using a zinc-based catalyst will make the chemical decomposition of bioplastics more efficient, and the final product will be methyl lactate.
This method was tested on three different separate items - a disposable cup, 3D printer waste, and a children's toy. It turned out that it was easier to convert disposable tableware to methyl lactate at low temperatures. Recycling thicker plastic requires high temperatures.
As a result of recycling, scientists received a beautiful green solvent, which is used for the manufacture of cosmetics. One of the authors of the work, Luis Roman-Ramirez from the School of Birmingham University, believes that the new recycling process will help to contribute to the program for reducing plastic waste in the world, creating new products from the recycled materials.
New technology divides plastic into chemical building blocks, from which a completely new product is formed. It has a high quality, a scope and an application.