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This plastic can be recycled over and over and over again

Breaking down into its initial building blocks is the key to the polymer’s reusability

By
3:40pm, April 26, 2018
plastic stacked up in landfill

POLLUTION PROBLEM  While some plastic is recycled, most ends up accumulating in landfills. Plastics that are easier to recycle could help change that.

There’s a great future in plastics.

A new kind of plastic can, when exposed to the right chemicals, break down into the same basic building blocks that it came from and be rebuilt again and again. The recyclable material is more durable than previous attempts to create reusable plastics, researchers report inthe April 27 Science.

Designing plastics that can be easily reused is one line of attack against the global plastic waste problem. Only about 10 percent of plastic ever made gets recycled, according to a 2017 study in Science Advances. But the material is so cheap and useful that hundreds of millions of tons of it keeps getting churned out each year.

A major impediment to plastic recycling is that most plastics degrade into molecules that aren’t immediately useful. Transforming

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