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More than 8 million tons of plastic will be floating in the ocean this year, according to the United Nations. A new process of chemical conversion developed at Purdue University allows researchers to turn recycled bags into small pellets which then turn into oil. With further distillation the oil can be separated into a gasoline- like fuel and diesel-like fuel according to Purdue Research Foundation.
“Our strategy is to create a driving force for recycling by converting polyolefin waste into a wide range of valuable products, including polymers, naphtha (a mixture of hydrocarbons), or clean fuels,” said Linda Wang, the Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering. “Our conversion technology has the potential to boost the profits of the recycling industry and shrink the world’s plastic waste stock.”
Inventors of this technology, Wang, Kai Jin and Wan-Tin (Grace) Chen can convert over 90 percent of the polyolefin waste into unique products. Some of these including monomers, fuels, naphtha or polymers. Wang was determined to create this technology after she became aware of the plastic waste pollution in the ground water, ocean and surrounding environment. According to The World Economic Forum, by 2050 the oceans will hold more plastic waste than fish if this dumping continues.
“Plastic waste disposal, whether recycled or thrown away, does not mean the end of the story,” Wang stated. “These plastics degrade slowly and release toxic microplastics and chemicals into the land and the water. This is a catastrophe, because once these pollutants are in the oceans, they are impossible to retrieve completely.”
This type of technology will completely change the way plastic waste is used. Wang’s technology has been patented through the Purdue Research Foundation. Wang will be the next big thing for the recycling industry to consider. Thankfully, our REUZBL bottle sleeves are also assisting in less plastic waste.