PDK: the new plastic with indefinite recycling capabilities – USAPosted on May 4, 2021 by DrRossH in Plastic Waste News
“Plastics were never designed to be recycled. The need to do so was recognised long afterward,” explained Nemi Vora, first author on the report and a former postdoctoral fellow who worked with Scown. “But driving sustainability is the heart of this project.
“PDKs were designed to be recycled from the get-go, and since the beginning the team has been working to refine the production and recycling processes for PDK so that the material could be inexpensive and easy enough to be deployed at commercial scales in anything from packaging to cars.”
Current mechanical processes for recycling plastic involve melting down the plastic and then reshaping into new products. When many plastics are melted together, the polymers become mixed with a slew of potentially incompatible additives, resulting in a new material that is much lower quality than newly produced virgin resin from raw materials. For this reason, less than 10% of plastic is mechanically recycled more than once.
In the case of PDK plastics, the resin polymers are engineered to easily break down into individual monomers when mixed with an acid. The monomers can then be separated from any additives and gathered to make new plastics without any loss of quality. The team’s earlier research shows that this ‘chemical recycling’ process is light on energy and carbon dioxide emissions, and can be repeated indefinitely, creating a completely circular material life cycle.
The article didn’t say what the source material was for this product. Is it hydrocarbon based or plant based?