We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
Rectangle Image
Video

How Science Is Fixing Recycling's Grossest Problem

Rectangle Image
Video

How Science Is Fixing Recycling's Grossest Problem

Credit: Pixabay.

Polypropylene recycling has a problem: It stinks. Food and other residues are almost impossible to remove entirely from polypropylene, a.k.a the number “5” plastic of grocery-store fame. Those residues – anything from yogurt to garlic, from fish oil to baby food – not only stick to polypropylene, they degrade there and start to smell even worse!

Current polypropylene recycling techniques are more down-cycling than re-cycling. Unless you break down its molecules through a highly energy-intensive refining process, the material can only get a second life as a black trash can or an underground pipe – wherever its smell doesn’t matter.


But a new technique, called dissolution recycling, is changing all that. Dissolution recycling uses a special hydrocarbon polymer solvent under finely controlled conditions of temperature and pressure to eliminate ALL of the contaminants embedded in the plastic.

Advertisement