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Researchers make unrecyclable plastics recyclable

Netherlands researchers have made headway into developing thermoset plastics that can be recycled as well as the more-commonly recycled thermoplastics.

Thermoplastics like PET, the material the vast majority of plastic bottles are made of, can be recycled by being melted down and remolded.

Thermoset plastics - which are used to make semiconductors, circuit boards, silicones and epoxy glue - can't be remolded once heated. Instead, they decompose.

Chemists at the University of Groningen, though, have created a thermoset plastic that can be reformed when heated, and published their findings in the journal Macromolecules.

The researchers found that the plastic they made can be shredded, melted and remolded at least seven times (see above photo) without affecting its mechanical properties.

Another type of thermoset plastic is vulcanized rubbed, but a Malaysian company, Green Rubber, developed a way to recycle tires by devulcanizing them, and the recycled rubber is being used in Timberland boots and shoes.

Via NYTimes

Plastic shreds - American Chemical Society

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