Plastic is a versatile material that can be used for a wide variety of projects. What's more, it is reusable and can be given new forms – so it can be given a second life in the sense of the circular economy. In the plastikfabrik in Saarbrücken (Germany), Daniela and Pascal Becher breathe such a second life into plastic.
With AlgX, the French industrial project Eranova has developed a product that responds to two global problems: Plastic pollution and algae pollution. It is a technology patented in 30 countries that allows the production of bio-based, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable plastics from green algae in the spirit of upcycling.
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More than 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced annually, which causes serious environmental issues. Consequently, most plastic waste ends up in either a landfill or the ocean. A significant number of plastics break down into microplastics, which are ingested by fish and other marine life causing havoc to marine ecosystems.
Borealis, one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in base chemicals and fertilizers, announces that it has acquired a minority stake in Limited, a UK-based growth-stage green tech business and inventor of the innovative EcoCore ® manufacturing technology platform for sustainable packaging.
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed a novel polymer to bind and strengthen silica sand for binder jet additive manufacturing, a 3D-printing method used by industries for prototyping and part production.
Plastics have taken the world by storm over the last century, finding applications in virtually every aspect of our lives. However, the rise of these synthetic polymers, which form the basis of plastics, has contributed to many serious environmental issues. The worst of these is the excessive use of petrochemical compounds and the disposal of non-biodegradable materials without recycling.
There's a lot of plastic in the ocean. Much of it comes from the single-use items that we're all familiar with, such as food wrappers and microbeads that inadvertently wind up in the sea. But a growing amount is coming from plastics that are actually made to be used in marine environments, such as instrumentation used for an emerging ocean "Internet of Things."
Many of us are familiar with this scene in our children’s bedrooms: when the kids have outgrown their toys, the latter typically get boxed up until we finally take heart and purge them. But it doesn’t have to be that way: the initiative of the HolyPoly company takes recycling steps to create new toys – that look slightly different.
Once plastic products are used and discarded, they can linger in oceans and harming sea life. One potential solution, a biodegradable polymer called polylactide (PLA), has so far not fully lived up to its promise, showing little sign of breakdown once in seawater. In a new study, researchers set out to address this issue by incorporating RNA-inspired breaking points to the polymer.
Plastic is an important material and a virtually irreplaceable component in many products. However, the breakdown and disposal of plastics after use also goes along with microplastics. At the end of its life cycle, plastic material first ends up in the environment and then comes back to us: a study has found that we ingest about five grams of plastic every week without realizing it.
Materials manufacturer Covestro and Eco-mobilier, a French eco-organization and non-profit extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemer for the collection and recycling of used furniture, aspire to generate enhanced value aiming at mattresses and upholsteries.
Air Liquide and BASF are planning to develop the world's largest cross-border Carbon Capture and Storage value chain. The goal is to significantly reduce CO2 emissions at the industrial cluster in the port of Antwerp. The joint project has been selected for funding by the European Commission through its Innovation Fund, as one of the seven large-scale projects out of more than 300 applications.
They are the size of a grain of sand and resemble trundling maple seeds: the flying microchips that researchers at Northwestern University have now developed. In the future, they should make it possible to monitor air pollution or airborne diseases. Polymers play a fundamental role in this. John Rogers tells us more in an interview with K-MAG.
Renewable energies, resource-saving processes, climate neutrality – rising to major challenges is key. These global tasks require creative minds, innovative technologies and high-performance materials.
Plastics waste presents a major challenge for humanity. There are many innovative people taking impactful action to address this issue, but their efforts are often on a small scale or overlooked, with no good means to scale them to make a significant difference.
"There is a lot of talk about the plastics industry, but too little talk with it," says the website of the German "Wir sind Kunststoff" initiative, which was launched in May 2021. It sees itself as a dialog platform for the industry on socially relevant aspects relating to plastics. To this end, eight associations pool their expertise and approach the public together as the faces of the industry.
Many of the world's largest consumer product companies, including Cocoa-Cola, Unilever and PepsiCo, have set ambitious targets for replacing virgin plastics with recycled ones – typically 25 percent of their total packaging by 2025. So far, however, most companies have made only modest progress and will need to ramp up their efforts to reach these lofty goals.